Following reports that the Mayor for London Sadiq Khan is proposing to deciminalise and end the prosecution of class B drugs has been opposed by the Labour leader.
Sir Keir Starmer said he has not seen the details of the proposed change in the law, but made his view quite clear that he is “not in favour of us changing the law or decriminalisation.”
The Telegraph reported that three London boroughs are to pilot the scheme which could be launched later this year in Bexley, Lewisham and Greenwhich.
The newspaper further reported that the change in the law will see the Metropolitan Police being told not to arrest those under the age of 25 who are caught with cannabis, ketamine or speed.
Instead the under 25s will be offered speeding course style classes or counselling.
The Mayor’s office said today that it is misleading to suggest Khan is looking to decriminalise the three class B drugs which will only apply to those aged “18 to 24” who are “found in possession of a small amount of cannabis.”
However the Mayor does not have the power to decriminalise cannabis and is subject to approval from the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (Mopac.)
The Labour leader was asked about the report in the Telegraph, he said, “On the drugs legislation, I’ve said a number of times and I will say again: I’m not in favour of us changing the law or decriminalisation. I’m very clear about that.
“I haven’t seen the detail of the proposals that you’ve reported on. As I understand it they are early measures, they are some sort of pilot.
“Obviously we’ll look at those, but I’m very clear that we’re not in favour of changing the drugs laws.”
A spokesman for the Mayor of London said, “This limited trial, which is still in development and has yet to be approved by City Hall, would involve three of London’s 32 boroughs and would only apply to 18 to 24-year-olds found in possession of a small amount of cannabis.
“It would not apply to any other drug.
“The idea of the scheme, which is already used by other police forces across the country, would be to divert young people who are found with a small amount of cannabis away from the criminal justice system and instead provide help and support.
“This has been shown to reduce reoffending.
“Reducing crime is the mayor’s top priority and he will continue to explore and implement the most effective solutions to help to divert young people away from drug use and crime for good.”
Downing Street said they have “no intention of decriminalising dangerous and harmful substances”.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said in response to the report, “I wouldn’t comment on speculation but, as we’ve said many times, illegal drugs destroy lives and fuel violence.
“We have absolutely no intention of decriminalising dangerous and harmful substances for recreational use.
“Decriminalisation would leave organised criminals in control, while risking an increase in drug use, which drives crime and violence which blights our streets.”