THE LOCAL Police and Crime Commissioner, Christopher Salmon, has not ruled out a relaxation of the force’s interpretation of cannabis laws. His wait and see approach follows news this week that Durham’s commissioner is to allow cannabis users to grow their own plants.
Ron Hogg, says that cannabis users will be able to grow the substance for their own personal use only, after changing the way his force prioritises cannabis related crime. Our commissioner, Christopher Salmon, was asked by The Herald if the same could happen here. He said that he would ‘wait and see what evidence emerges’, adding, ‘the advantage to police and crime commissioners is the flexibility to take a local approach’.
Mr Hogg said: “We are not prioritising people who have a small number of cannabis plants for their own use. In low level cases we say it is better to work with them and put them in a position where they can recover.
“In these cases the most likely way of dealing with them would be with a caution and by taking the plants away and disposing of them. It is unlikely that a case like that would be brought before a court. Of course it is up to the government to change the law but I am trying to open up a debate about drugs and drugs policy.”
He went on to say: “Traditionally what would have happened is people would have been arrested for using cannabis, sometimes imprisoned and it just maintained a cycle of reoffending in and out of prison. We want to try and break that cycle whilst also having a sensible debate around cannabis. If they fail to engage then we will prosecute.”
He finished by stating: “By and large we are saying it is not the top of our list to go out and try to pick up people smoking joints on street corners but if it’s blatant or we get complaints, officers will act. Drugs cause immense harm to our communities. The question is how we tackle them. There hasn’t been a change in policy. We are taking an approach which reduces harm – by focusing on stopping people from using drugs, and tackling the organised gangs who are the source of the supply.
“Those who grow or deal in drugs, no matter on what scale, are responsible for causing massive harm to our communities, and will be tackled. The police are working with partners including the fire service to identify and tackle cannabis farms.”
However, the policy in Durham has received some criticism. Simon Stephens, director of casework for Addiction UK, said: “Essentially, I’m coming at this from a health perspective – I think that his comments aren’t particularly helpful. It does send a message that drugs are OK – there can be no doubt that there a significant amount of people with mental health problems brought on by cannabis.”
David Raynes of the National Drug Prevention Alliance, was also critical, saying: “Durham Constabulary are out on their own with this and are trying to lead the law on this issue. If the Chief Constable and Police Crime Commissioner want to indulge in that policy then it is not necessary to make it public, because clearly making this sort of announcement will serve to encourage anyone who so minded.”
In 2013 Durham’s current Chief Constable, Mike Barton, made what some people considered to be controversial comments on his force’s policy on drug prosecution, stating: “If an addict were able to access drugs via the NHS or something similar, then they would not have to go out and buy illegal drugs. Addiction to anything is not a good thing, but outright prohibition hands revenue streams to villains. Not all crime gangs raise income through selling drugs, but most of them do in my experience. So offering an alternative route of supply to users cuts their income stream off. What I am saying is that drugs should be controlled. They should not, of course, be freely available. Have we not learned the lessons of prohibition in history? The Mob’s sinister rise to prominence in the US was pretty much funded through its supply of a prohibited drug, alcohol. That’s arguably what we are doing in the UK.”
Commenting on Dyfed-Powys’ current position, a police spokesperson said: “Dyfed-Powys follows national guidance in the way in which it deals with those people who commit drug offences. There are a number of outcomes possible for those who offend, recognising the circumstances and nature of each individual offence. These outcomes range from cannabis warnings to those who appear at court.”
Mr Salmon did go on to say: “Drugs do great damage to people’s lives. I’m clear we must do everything we can to reduce the harm caused. While we have no plans to follow Durham, I will see what evidence emerges.”
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7-year-old Mattie from Pembrey takes on home Pen y Fan-tastic challenge for Action for Children
Plucky Mattie Denman will climb the equivalent of Pen y Fan in the drive at her family home in Pembrey on Friday 22nd May to raise funds for Action for Children.
Mattie (7), has always wanted to climb the highest mountain in South Wales and is unable to currently because of the coronavirus pandemic. As the family exercise at home every day, she decided she wanted to do the 6-mile equivalent journey there while she waits for the chance to do it for real. Mattie chose Action for Children as her mother, Sian, works for the charity in Carmarthenshire.
Mattie said: ‘My Mammy works for Action for Children and I want to help as well because lots of families need help. My older brother and sister help Action for Children, so I asked Mammy if I could do something. We exercise everyday walking up and down the drive and I have always wanted to climb Pen y Fan, but we have never done it.
‘Mammy said I could pretend I am walking it and people will give money to the charity. I said brilliant, that is what I am going to do and I am super excited to do it. I will use mammy’s step counter and I hope I can help children that need support especially because it is so hard for some families because of coronavirus.’
Proud mum and family support practitioner for Action for Children, Sian, added: ‘Mattie has a lovely heart and really wanted to do something and I’m very proud she chose Pen y Fan as her home challenge. Action for Children has been going the extra mile during the coronavirus pandemic continuing to support vulnerable families through phone and video sessions as well as food and help with the basics from our Emergency Appeal Fund.
‘It is a tremendously challenging time for our families and every bit of money will directly help those in our communities who need it most. I hope as many people as possible will donate to Mattie’s brilliant fundraising effort, it’ll make it even more special when we finally get to climb Pen y Fan for real.’
If you want to support Mattie’s Pen y Fan challenge please go to: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mattiesclimb
Housebuilder launches Coronavirus move in package
A South Wales housebuilder has launched new incentives which mean homes are ‘ready to move into’ during the Covid-19 crisis – without the need for tradespeople or delivery people.
People in Wales are allowed to move into new build houses during the lockdown – and many people have successfully done so.
However, the limitations of social distancing can add extra stress when it comes to having things like dishwashers, washing machines and turf installed in the new property.
That’s why Persimmon Homes West Wales has launched a new incentive package which gives purchasers the chance to buy a house with white goods and flooring already in place.
Sharon Bouhali, sales director at Persimmon Homes West Wales, said: “Our sales advisors have done a terrific job in talking with customers and guiding them through the buying process remotely, without the need of face-to-face meetings.
“It’s been a huge challenge, but we’ve risen to it – and Persimmon has sold more than 120 properties in South Wales during the lockdown period. We have customers moving into their new homes every week.
“But, understandably, some people are cautious about having too many tradespeople and contractors enter their home, even if they are doing their utmost to abide by social distancing rules.
“That’s why we have launched these new packages which mean people can turn the key, unpack and get on with enjoying their new home.”
The package includes carpets and vinyl throughout, turf in the back garden, sliding wardrobes, integrated fridge freezer, integrated washer/dryer, integrated dishwasher and £500 discount towards removal fees.
The deal is on offer at Glas Y Felin in Bridgend, Parc Yr Onnen in Carmarthen, The Bridles in Llanelli, Peterson Park in Pontyclun, Parc Brynderi in Llanelli and Allt Y Celyn in Rhos.
Persimmon’s marketing suites in Wales remain closed for the time being. Visit www.persimmonhomes.com or call 01792 229800 for details of homes available.
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