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New police operation plans to target 'drug users rather than dealers'

New police operation plans to target 'drug users rather than dealers'

Instead of going after drug dealers, a new police operation reportedly aims to tackle drug use instead.

A change in tactic by a number of police forces is aiming to target 'affluent' drug users, shifting focus away from the drug dealers law enforcement usually seeks to clamp down on.

This approach is hoping to 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.

Police are aiming to crack down on 'affluent' people taking drugs.
Анастасия Короткова / Alamy Stock Photo

The Conservative police and crime commissioners in the region have been pushing for the crackdown as they were concerned that cannabis smoking in public was 'widespread' and other illegal 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 it is illegal' and suggested that for some people illegal drug taking 'feels like the norm in their circle of friends'.

She said: "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."

Dorset Police Crime Commissioner David Sidwick supported the idea of making cannabis a Class A drug.

This is a deviation from the normal aims of most police efforts to tackle drug use that go after drug dealers as a priority.

It's also very different from the approach taken in one part of the UK where officers all but tolerate low level cannabis use and instead prefer to focus their efforts on taking out drug dealers.

However, David Sidwick, police crime commissioner for Dorset, who previously said smoking cannabis was as dangerous as heroin or cocaine, said going after recreational drug users would 'add value' to police 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.

Featured Image Credit: Pavel Chernobrivets / Alamy Simon Dack / Alamy