Police in South West England are set to turn their focus from dealers and the leaders of gangs, toward “affluent” drug takers using MDMA, cocaine and cannabis.
According to The Times, five forces in South West England — alongside the British Transport Police — will take part in a joint operation to find and arrest “casual” drug users taking substances in nightclubs or smoking cannabis outdoors.
Operation Scorpion will involve “significant drug operations” from forces across Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Avon and Somerset, Cornwall and Devon, and Dorset, according to The Times.
These include “crackdowns” on nightlife districts, though the police have not disclosed what areas would be targeted.
The decision to shift police focus from drug dealers and the leaders of drug gangs as a means of drug enforcement, was made by the region’s Conservative police and crime commissioners due to concerns drug taking is becoming “normalised” within certain groups.
Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall told The Times: “There’s been so much discussion about the legalisation of cannabis that many people do not recognise it is illegal, it feels like the norm in their circle of friends.
“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.
She said: “These ‘party drugs’ can be glamourised or associated with users who may appear [to be] more affluent. We want to remind them that these things are illegal and make the environment so hostile that they choose not to do it.”
The shift from policing drug networks into targeting drug users that are deemed more “middle class” was a longstanding policy of former Home Secretary Priti Patel, and the government of former PM Boris Johnson.
Patel announced a series of proposals earlier this year to crack down on “habitual drug taking” including a “three strike policy” that would see those caught with substances banned from nightclubs and having their passports confiscated.
[Via: The Times]
Megan Townsend is Mixmag’s Deputy Editor, follow her on Twitter
Written by: Tim Hopkins