Amendment 129

Part of Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill - Committee (5th Day) – in the House of Lords at 5:00 pm on 3 November 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Green 5:00, 3 November 2021

My Lords, it is a pleasure to support the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, in tabling this amendment, and it is the reason that we first met. When I heard about this commander down in Brixton who had an innovative way of dealing with cannabis possession, I went down there very quickly to meet him and find out exactly what he was doing, and I was very impressed.

He has laid out the rationale behind the amendment extremely thoroughly and with great insider knowledge, but I will throw in what the Green Party has been saying for the past 50 years. Our drugs policy is to create a regulated drug and alcohol market that is focused on safety and harm reduction, which our current policy is clearly not. In the interim, decriminalisation is important, but it will never be as effective at reducing crime and improving health outcomes as a fully regulated system.

Many police forces have de facto decriminalised cannabis. They have seen that it just does not work to keep on with this targeted racist behaviour. The amendment would be a very welcome step. At the moment, it is a gateway power which allows the state to interfere with people and search them for something that should not even be illegal. As the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, said very clearly, it alienates communities at the very point at which you need those communities to help the police with intelligence. I have been out with quite a few stop and search teams. I have seen it done well, but that was the exception. I have seen it done okay and done extremely badly. It is an issue of training as well as for the law itself, and it is used in discriminatory ways. This is a brilliant amendment. Well done to the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, for tabling it.