11:18AM, Thursday 16 January 2020
Offenders caught with small amounts of drugs in Maidenhead and Windsor may not be prosecuted as part of a police pilot scheme.
The scheme, which attempts to prevent the cycle of re-offending, will give those caught with some illegal substances the chance to defer prosecution if they work with the police to address their use of drugs.
Those caught with larger quantities of drugs, are suspected of dealing drugs or do not engage with the specialist support will face arrest and prosecution.
Thames Valley Police is running the three-month Drugs Diversion Scheme pilot, which started on Monday, in Maidenhead and Windsor. It has already launched a slightly different voluntary attendance pilot scheme in West Berkshire.
The charity Cranstoun will provide the drug support service. The Police and Crime Commissioner, Royal Borough council and Youth Offending Team are also involved in the scheme.
Once the three-month trial is complete, the pilots will continue to run while a decision is made on whether to expand it to the whole Thames Valley.
Detective Superintendent Justin Fletcher, said: “There is evidence to suggest links between drug use and criminality. Both pilots offer a tailored programme of support for those who would ordinarily receive a criminal sanction.
“With continued cross-partner working, this should have a positive impact on the Thames Valley community as a whole.
“The pilot in West Berkshire has already shown success when working with children and young people. From a previous preliminary evaluation, it found 78 per cent completed the full programme of treatment.
Cranstoun area manager for West Berkshire and resilience, Geena Virdi, added: “We believe everyone should have the opportunity to live healthy, safe and happy lives.
“By providing a tailored diversion route and specialist support programme, we have an opportunity to engage with people who may never seek treatment, look to stop the revolving door of criminal justice engagement and hope to address the high numbers of national drug-related deaths.
“In doing so, we can work with these individuals to address their use of drugs, make healthier choices and reduce harm.”
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