Criminal Law

Part of Theft from Shops (Use of Penalty Notices for Disorder) – in the House of Commons at 5:01 pm on 11th March 2009.

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Photo of Maria Eagle Maria Eagle Parliamentary Secretary (Government Equalities office) (also in the Ministry of Justice), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice 5:01 pm, 11th March 2009

I shall deal with that point. At present, the 2004 Association of Chief Police Officers' administrative arrangements on cannabis warnings for possession are in use. Any police officer catching somebody in possession has the immediate capacity and jurisdiction to arrest if the circumstances warrant it, but if it is simple possession with no aggravating features, he or she may take the view that some sort of warning is appropriate if it is a first offence. At present there is an administrative warning in England—a cannabis warning—which, anecdotally, has been used on more than one occasion.

The arrangements that we are putting in place through the order, part of which introduces a penalty notice for disorder for a second offence, create an escalation such that an individual who is caught in possession, in circumstances that the officer concerned considers appropriate, can receive a cannabis warning—an administrative warning—for a first offence, a PND for a second offence, and can be arrested for a third offence. This is a regime of escalation. I accept the importance of sending signals, as the hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate said. He called the measure a three-strike policy, but it is an attempt to escalate the consequences of being caught more than once.

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