Sadiq Khan may soon oversee trials of partial drug decriminalisation in three London boroughs to ensure under-25s caught with small amounts of cannabis escape arrest.
The trials – in Lewisham, Bexley and Greenwich – would see police told to divert 18-24-year-olds found with small amounts of cannabis into drug courses or counselling instead of arresting them.
The scheme, first reported by the Telegraph, could be announced as early as this month if it is given final sign off by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC).
The trials have been spearheaded by the three individual councils.
A spokesperson for Khan said the trials were not yet approved by City Hall, but that “we know that we’ll never be able to simply arrest our way out of the problem, which is why we continue to work on schemes that provide young people with support and education rather than simply putting them through the criminal justice system – with the aim of diverting them away from drug use and crime for good”.
The Metropolitan Police in the three South East London boroughs could be told to divert under-25s caught with marijuana into counselling and courses that are run by youth workers.
These proposed courses would seek to educate participants about the dangers of drugs and keep young people out of the criminal justice system.
Finding ways to divert young drug users away from the criminal justice system was a stated goal in the government’s recent drugs strategy.
A spokesperson for Khan said: “The mayor firmly believes that drug use, and its related crimes, are preventable and not inevitable. That is why his approaches to tackling these issues are rooted in deterrence and early intervention.
“City Hall is working closely with community groups across London, providing them with the resources they need to tackle poverty, alienation and a lack of opportunity so that they can help bring about lasting change in their local area.
“A core focus of this work is investigating various ways in which young people can be diverted away from low-level drug use by being better informed about its harm, and MOPAC is actively involved in discussions around this scheme.