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.”
Global Litter Charity has announced the date of its next Welsh litter picking event
THE UOCEAN Project, part of the Vayyu Foundation, which has set itself the target of removing 1 billion kilos of waste from the world’s oceans by 2030, will be holding its next litter collection taskforce event at Pembrey Country Park in Carmarthenshire.
Everyone is invited to join The UOcean Project volunteers and to make a difference by collecting litter, especially plastics, which are polluting our environment and ending up in the world’s oceans. The UOcean Project has highlighted the dramatic increase in litter from plastic bags to face masks since lockdown restrictions were lifted, making it even more important to clean-up and reduce waste pollution.
Chris Desai, head of The UOcean Project commented. “Picking up one plastic bottle or single use face mask may not appear to be significant, but at each event we are collecting many kilos of plastic because more and more individuals are joining our litter picking teams.
The combined collections here and overseas are the only way to make a difference and start fighting back against pollution.”
The UOcean Project organises litter pick-up teams who work across the UK, especially around coastlines, as well as internationally. By organising volunteers into Chapters and providing them with the tools and equipment to pick up litter, they have already collected 53,000 kilos of waste which would have ended up in the seas.
All volunteers are provided with the equipment needed to safely pick up litter so that it can be disposed of in the right way. For more information about The UOcean Project please go to the website www.theuoceanproject.com
Warning! Dangerous Valium circulating in Llanelli
Warning! Dangerous Valium circulating in
POLICE are warning drug users in Llanelli to take extra care following information received that dangerous valium is circulating in the area.
A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: “We have reasons to believe that the drugs being distributed and used in the Llanelli area at present could be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.
“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately should they become unwell.
“Please share this information with anyone that you believe could come into contact with these drugs.”
To seek advice and support, visit https://barod.cymru/where-to-get-help/west-wales-services/ddas-dyfed-drug-and-alcohol-service/
Please be aware that some services may operate an automated service outside office hours.
In an emergency, or if you think someone’s life is at risk, always dial 999.
Parents warned to look out for respiratory illness in children
RESPIRATORY Syncytial Virus (RSV) is circulating amongst children and toddlers in the Hywel Dda area (Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire)
Hywel Dda UHB Medical Director and Deputy Chief Executive Dr Philip Kloer said: “Because of the COVID restrictions, there have been few cases of RSV during the pandemic, but this virus has returned and in higher numbers now people are mixing more.
“RSV is a common respiratory illness which is usually picked up by children during the winter season, and causes very few problems to the majority of children. However, very young babies, particularly those born prematurely, and children with heart or lung conditions, can be seriously affected and it’s important that parents are aware of the actions to take.”
Parents are being encouraged to look out for symptoms of severe infection in at-risk children, including:
*a high temperature of 37.8°C or above (fever)
*a dry and persistent cough, difficulty feeding, rapid or noisy breathing (wheezing).
The best way to prevent RSV is to wash hands with soap and water or hand sanitiser regularly, dispose of used tissues correctly, and to keep surfaces clean and sanitised.
Most cases of bronchiolitis are not serious and clear up within 2 to 3 weeks, but you should contact your GP or call NHS 111 if:
- You are worried about your child.
- Your child has taken less than half their usual amount during the last two or three feeds, or they have had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more.
- Your child has a persistent high temperature of 37.8C or above.
- Your child seems very tired or irritable.
Dial 999 for an ambulance if:
- your baby is having difficulty breathing
- your baby’s tongue or lips are blue
- there are long pauses in your baby’s breathing
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