Around one in six people in Bedfordshire caught with cannabis charged

Around one in six people caught with cannabis in Bedfordshire last year were charged, figures reveal.

Friday, 28th May 2021, 12:02 pm
Police (stock image)

Around one in six people caught with cannabis in Bedfordshire last year were charged, figures reveal.

Campaigners say enforcement of the law dictating cannabis use is a "postcode lottery" and have called for possession of the drug to be decriminalised altogether.

Home Office data shows that of 1,262 cannabis possession offences closed by Bedfordshire Police last year, 221 resulted in a charge or summons.

That's a charge rate of 18%, although it excludes a further 45 offences that had not yet been assigned an outcome.

Across England and Wales, there were 117,000 cannabis possession offences recorded in 2020 that had reached an outcome.

Of those, 17% ended in a charge – down from 21% in 2019.

The figures do not include Greater Manchester Police as it did not submit complete data.

North Wales Police recorded the highest charge rate, at 34%, while Surrey Police charged just 7% of offences.

Niamh Eastwood, executive director of drugs charity Release, said young people are disproportionately criminalised for having the drug, limiting their education and work opportunities.

“It is right that most people caught in possession are not charged and avoid the burden of a criminal record,” she added.

“That being said, the postcode lottery that exists in how this offence is treated is why we need a national approach.”