Starmer clashes with Sadiq Khan’s drugs policy
London mayor Sadiq Khan (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
LABOUR PARTY leader Keir Starmer clashed with London mayor Sadiq Khan’s drugs policy on Tuesday (4) as he distanced himself from a scheme to decriminalise cannabis use in parts of the capital, reported the MailOnline.
Starmer insisted he was against softening the law after it was revealed a proposed pilot programme would see young adults caught with the Class B drug offered speeding course-style classes or counselling instead of arrest.
The trial, if approved by City Hall, would run in the boroughs of Lewisham, Greenwich and Bexley and apply to those aged 18 to 24.
A spokesman for Khan said similar schemes were already being used in other parts of the UK, adding that it would ‘divert young people who are found with a small amount of cannabis away from the criminal justice system and instead provide help and support to cut reoffending.
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“On the drugs legislation, I’ve said a number of times and I will say again: I’m not in favour of us changing the law or decriminalisation. I’m very clear about that,” Sir Keir was quoted as saying by the website.
“I haven’t seen the detail of the proposals that you’ve reported on. As I understand it they are early measures, they are some sort of pilot. Obviously, we’ll look at those, but I’m very clear that we’re not in favour of changing the drugs laws.”
Khan’s move comes less than a month after prime minister Boris Johnson announced a major crackdown on recreational drug use.
He warned middle-class users he will not sit ‘idly by’ and let them fund crime and said they faced being stripped of their passports and driving licences under new curbs.
The Labour leader has previously said he does not think decriminalisation should be pursued in England.
Khan’s scheme will reportedly be announced this month and will be spearheaded by Lewisham mayor Damien Egan.
The new policy is based on research suggesting police time would be better spent on serious and violent crime, instead of punishing those caught with cannabis.
According to the report, similar schemes have previously been tested by police and crime commissioners in Somerset, Durham and the West Midlands.
A spokesman for the mayor said: “This limited trial, which is still in development and has yet to be approved by City Hall, would involve three of London’s 32 boroughs and would only apply to 18-24 year olds found in possession of a small amount of cannabis. It would not apply to any other drug…
“Reducing crime is the Mayor’s top priority and he will continue to explore and implement the most effective solutions to help to divert young people away from drug use and crime for good.”
In April, thousands of marijuana fans flocked to Hyde Park to openly smoke cannabis as they celebrated ‘420 day’.
However, Khan’s plans could clash with Johnson’s desire to get ‘very tough’ on drug users.