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UK: Cannabis arrests fall by 53 per cent

Arrests for cannabis possession in London have fallen by 53 per cent since the drug was reclassified as Class C, but offenders are becoming more confrontational. In a report to be released today, the Metropolitan Police Authority says the number of people stopped for possession has gone up by 31 per cent but that might be because previously policemen would let offenders go instead of dealing with paperwork involved in mandatory arrests. Now, almost 60 per cent of all offenders are let go with a warning.

The authority estimates that this saved 4,935 hours of police time from April to the end of August. But police are finding offenders confused about new rules on possession, which remains illegal.

"Youths are telling officers that officers could not do anything about their possession of the drug," the report says. Officers said "confrontations had actually increased due to the mixed message about the reclassification."

Alex Fak, Financial Times, 25. November 2004
Update Thursday 25 November 2004 16:41, published Thursday 25 November 2004 16:39