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Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what he estimates to be the social and economic costs in the most recent year for which figures are available of illegal drugs in (a) Wales and (b) Lancashire. [70322]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The University of York, Centre for Criminal Justice Economics & Psychology (Culyer A., Eaton G., Godfrey C. et al., 2002) has recently completed a research report for the Home Office entitled "The Economic and Social Costs of Class A Drugs Misuse in England and Wales, 2000". The report will be published as a Home Office Research Study (HORS) Autumn 2002, but does not include any country or regional breakdown of costs.

Mr. Stinchcombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what evidence he has collated of links between (a) acquisitive and (b) violent crime and the use of (i) cannabis, (ii) amphetamines, (iii) LSD, (iv) cocaine, (v) ecstasy, (vi) heroin and (vii) crack. [66664]

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Mr. Bob Ainsworth: No statistical data are collected on offences that may have been committed due to specific drug taking. However, the New English and Welsh Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (NEW-ADAM) research published between 1998 and 2001 sheds some light on the links between drugs and acquisitive crime. The research is insufficiently advanced to reveal the precise links between drugs and violent crime.

What the most recently published research does indicate is that users of both heroin and cocaine/crack (just under a quarter of the arrestees interviewed) are responsible for more than 60 per cent of the illegal income reported. Furthermore, 53 per cent of the arrestees reported having committed one or more acquisitive crimes in the last year. This increased to 62 per cent of those who had used any drug in the past 12 months, and 75 per cent of those who had used heroin and/or cocaine/crack in the last year. The latter group reported an average of 432 acquisitive crimes in the year—nearly 10 times the rate for non-drug-users. Therefore, drug use in general, and especially use of heroin and/or cocaine/crack, is associated with higher levels of crime.

There is little evidence of any strong links between acquisitive or violent crime and cannabis, amphetamine, ecstasy or LSD use.

Mr. Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were convicted of (a) class A and (b) class B drug offences in (i) Leeds and (ii) each of the English regions in the past 10 years. [69953]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The information requested, relating to persons convicted for (a) Class A and (b) Class B drug offences in Leeds and the English regions for the years 1993 to 2000 is shown in the table.

A breakdown between the different classes of drug was not collected centrally prior to 1993. Statistics for 2001 will be available in the Autumn.

Numbers of persons convicted of Class A and Class B drug offences in England 1993–2000, by region, showing Leeds separately

Persons convicted of offences involving 1 Class A 2 drugs
East Midlands1892032543164796158211,034
North East174152167238328421538853
North West8671,0211,3191,6361,9022,0032,0712,125
South East3744456226758571,1991,5081,702
South West2963456036598148451,0701,192
West Midlands 3 2702814045528279921,1771,537
Yorkshire and the Humber4725287781,2261,7551,9832,2092,214
Of which:
Leeds Petty Sessional Area 4 8172169220341431486416
Total England4,4745,1716,5867,9409,76611,89113,93715,037
Persons convicted of offences involving 1 Class B 2 drugs
East Midlands9541,2471,4621,5741,9372,1631,8321,546
North East6487218141,0191,1321,7031,9241,872
North West2,8503,3563,8863,9054,5585,4935,0464,235
South East1,8362,6003,0953,1193,5334,6804,3793,571
South West 3 1,0811,3891,6741,6711,8542,3482,3332,038
West Midlands1,0821,3651,6261,7072,3352,8762,6202,457
Yorkshire and the Humber1,6291,9222,3262,4763,0033,6543,3182,637
Of which: Leeds Petty Sessional Area 4 326349514463570684481396
Total England14,57819,16521,26521,88026,08232,36830,40025,806

(1) Trafficking, production, supply, possession etc.

(2) Excludes a small number of offences where the type of drug is unknown.

(3) Staffordshire Police were only able to supply a sample of data for magistrates' courts proceedings covering one full week in each quarter for 2000. Estimates based on this sample are included in the figures, as they are considered sufficiently robust at this high level of analysis.

(4) Also includes convictions at the Crown Court where Leeds was the committing Magistrates' court

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Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how much cannabis a person would have to possess to be able to arrest them for dealing in the drug; [70137] (2) how many cautions a person will be allowed to receive for possession of cannabis; [70138] (3) what measures are in place to ensure that cannabis is not (a) used and (b) dealt near schools and other places where children are present; [70140] (4) which class A and B drugs are to have sentences for dealing and possession increased; and what the new sentences will be. [70139]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: There are no plans to increase sentences for supply and possession of any Class A or B drug. The table sets out the current maximum penalties.

Misuse of drugs offences—current maximum penalties

OffenceClass AClass B
Supply of a controlled drugLife or a fine or both14 years or a fine or both
Possession of a controlled drug7 years or a fine or both5 years or a fine or both

The police can arrest someone who is in possession of cannabis, as a dealer, if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that the person has committed an offence of possession with intent to supply. The Home Affairs Committee, however, was not persuaded that an intent to supply should be presumed on the basis of the amount of a drug found and the Government has accepted this view. There would be considerable practical difficulty in setting a figure for the amount of cannabis possessed to constitute a criminal offence of possession with intent to supply. Dealers would exploit this by ensuring that the amount of the drug held by them remained below such a figure. The amount of the drug found in possession is an important factor, but not the only one, to consider in deciding on intent to supply. Other factors, such as other items in the person's possession or intelligence information gathered, might also be relevant.

The Association of Chief Police Officers is currently developing a model for enforcing cannabis possession offences which they expect to issue this Autumn, following consultation. It is expected that the majority of first offences of cannabis possession by an adult will be dealt with by way of a formal warning from the police, together with confiscation of the drug. Further offending, or offending where there are aggravating factors, such as that involving a flagrant disregard for the law or which threatens public order, could result in arrest, followed by a caution or prosecution.

Youth offenders will be dealt with in the same manner as they are for all other offences, as detailed in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 Final Warning Scheme. Under that scheme, they should be reported for the offence and a decision should be made on their case disposal from the options of a reprimand, final warning or charge. A young person with no previous offending history should receive a reprimand. A second offence will lead to a warning or charge, depending on its seriousness. Any further offending following a warning will normally result in a charge being brought.

Frequent use is an indication of vulnerability and this needs to be taken seriously. Hence, after a final warning, a youth offender must be referred to the Youth Offending Team to arrange a rehabilitation programme to prevent reoffending.

We are currently launching local Safer Schools Partnerships with an initial 100 police officers in schools by September, which will help to make the communities around schools safer places to be. The Department for Education and Skills encourages all schools to have a drug incident management policy agreed by the governors, staff and parents in consultation with the local police. Schools are also encouraged to involve pupils in this process.

We are considering the introduction of a separate criminal offence of supplying drugs to young people which would attract higher maximum sentences than are currently available. Those who deal near schools would be sentenced severely.

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