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

That is a good point, as I have accepted in previous discussions. There are local arrangements within particular forces for making notes of such things. PNDs are now available, and can be issued for offences; that has been possible since 26 January, as the hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate said.

Possession of cannabis is a recordable offence and should therefore be put on the police national computer within 24 hours; that is the arrangement. That, of course, works only if a cannabis warning has already been given as part of the escalation. PentiP, the computer system that will record cannabis warnings and PNDs across England, will be in operation by 2010. Until then, we will rely on local forces' own, more informal recording of cannabis warnings. The PND would, of course, be recorded on the police national computer and there would be an arrest for a further offence of possession.

I remind the House, however, that every investigating officer uses his or her judgment at the time and in the circumstances. They certainly have the power to arrest for a first offence if there is an aggravating feature—if there appears to be an attempt to supply or if the individual is hanging around outside a school gate, for example. We want the individual police officer to exercise their professional judgment, and it is possible for them to arrest for a first offence.

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