Release has responded to the Mayor's Office on Policing and Crime ('MOPAC') Consultation 'A Safer City for All Londoners, Draft Police and Crime Plan for London 2017 -2021' which sets out "a plan that explains how the police, community safety partners and other criminal justice agencies will work together to reduce crime."
We highlight a number of issues relating to the policing of drugs and sex work, and make the following recommendations:
1. Implement a diversion scheme for those caught in possession of drugs for their personal use. The diversion scheme would apply to all drugs. In relation to cannabis the current National Police Chief Council’s guidance on cannabis policing would be followed, but instead of arresting someone on a third occasion they would become eligible for the diversion scheme. Currently, it appears the guidance on cannabis policing is being applied in an ad-hoc manner in London - we would recommend that it is followed strictly by police officers in terms of issuing cannabis warnings for first offences and PND’s for a second offence. This strict implementation of the guidance would reduce the discrimination faced by the BAME population in relation to charging decisions, and reduce the burden on the court system.
2. MOPAC instructs the Metropolitan Police Service must analyse the grounds for stop and search – in particular ‘smell of cannabis’ – to ensure that the power is not being abused and that ‘reasonable suspicion’ is being established. This information should be made public and available to community monitoring groups. Officers who ignore best practice and who carry out illegal searches must be held accountable.
3. Reduce the number of drug stop and searches. It is hard to understand why drug stop and searches so dominate the use of this power - the significant fall in the number of overall searches is welcomed but it inexplicable as to why almost two thirds of searches in London are for low level possession of drugs.
4. Deprioritise the offence of soliciting and deploy resources into exploring alternatives which focus on ensuring safety of women.