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27th Oct 2022

New police operation to target ‘drug users instead of dealers’ in tactics change

Charlie Herbert

Drug users

Police are going to crack down on ‘affluent’ drug users

Police forces across a number of counties in England are changing their tactics when it comes to dealing with drugs – and will now start focusing more on punishing drug users than dealers.

It is hoped that this approach will tackle the illegal use of drugs by making it clear to users that they are part of the problem and not just having a bit of harmless fun.

According to The Times, five police forces in southwest England are launching a crackdown on “affluent” drug users who take cocaine and ecstasy in nightclubs and smoke cannabis in public.

They will also be working with the British Transport Police to crack down on drug users, warning people they will be targeted and face arrest for using drugs.

Titled ‘Operation Scorpion’, the change in approach will take place in Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, Avon and Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.

Tory police and crime commissioners in these regions have been pushing for harsher treatment of drug users as they were becoming concerned at how “widespread” drug use was going unpunished.

Alison Hernandez, police and crime commissioner for Devon and Cornwall said the change in tactic was done because “many people do not recognise” that taking drugs is illegal. She suggested that for some people illegal drug taking “feels like the norm in their circle of friends.”

Police and crime commissioners believe people ‘do not recognise’ that taking drugs is illegal (iStock)

She continued: “We’re fed up with people that earn good money, from tradesmen to accountants and lawyers, who think that snorting a line of coke is a fun thing to do on a weekend.

“They probably pay more attention to the provenance of their coffee, and it being fair trade, than they do with drugs.

“We want to remind them that these things are illegal and make the environment so hostile that they choose not to do it.”

In the past police efforts to tackle drug use have focused on drug dealers as the priority.

But David Sidwick, police crime commissioner for Dorset, said that going after recreational drug users would “add value” to efforts to tackle drugs.

He said it was “absolutely right” to keep “going after kingpins and cutting the head off the snake” at the same time, and called for “tough enforcement” of the law.

The news probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given home secretary Suella Braverman’s views on drugs.

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