9 June 2020
What is Talking Points?
Cambridge News asks a representative of each local political party to answer a question on a local issue in just 300 words. The answers are then published in the physical copy of the Cambridge News every fortnight. Here, we share our response to the question.
Today's Question: what can be done to tackle drug crime in Cambridge?
The single most effective thing that can be done to address the issue of drug crime is to take drug use out of the criminal justice system and focus on it as a medical problem deserving of care and support. Furthermore, those involved in county drug lines are frequently exploited young or vulnerable people who may even have been trafficked.
In the 2019 Green Party election manifesto we proposed a far-reaching reform of our whole approach to drug use that would transform the way that we see drugs and strike at the roots of drug crime. There is systematic racism in the criminal justice system with respect to drugs. For example, black people are five times more likely to be charged after being caught in possession of cannabis than white people. By diverting people involved in possession for personal use or minor supply offences away from the criminal justice system into an assessment by health services we would reduce the burden on the criminal justice system and the lifelong implications for that individual.
Cambridgeshire has suffered from the growth of the County Lines dealing networks, which pose a threat particularly to our children and schools. In 2018–19 there were 2,332 police seizures of drugs in the County, most of them class B – the class that cannabis is in.
Other countries, such as Portugal, have seen enormous improvements from adopting a health driven approach. We should do the same. At a local level Greens would press for steps to be taken to treat drug use as a medical problem – addiction – rather than a criminal one. This allows those who are harmed by drug use or abused into involvement with drug networks to have their lives stabilised, and to have a monitored health plan and appropriate treatment.
Our response was written by Hannah Charlotte Copley. Hannah has lived in Cambridge since 2008 and is Co-Convener of the Cambridge Green Party and City Council Candidate for Abbey Ward. She has been a doctor at Addenbrooke's Hospital for the last four years and is currently working on research investigating kidney transplantation.