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Friday, 24 January 2014

British border guards told not to arrest travellers with cannabis... -

British border guards told not to arrest travellers with cannabis... - 

 Border guards have been instructed not to arrest travellers who bring small amounts of cannabis or other drugs into Britain, it has emerged.

Official guidance to Border Force staff at ports and airports says no action should be taken against people found with “personal use” quantities of Class B drugs such as cannabis, amphetamines and mephedrone, also known as meow meow.

The instruction was disclosed for the first time in a report on Stansted airport by John Vine, the Chief Inspector of Border and Immigration.

He criticised the Border Force after inspectors saw them deal with a passenger who arrived in the country while “under the influence of controlled drugs”.

The report said: “The passenger was arrested despite previously issued guidance stating that arrests for ‘personal use’ quantities of Class B drugs were not to be undertaken unless there were extenuating cuircumstances, which there were not in this case.

“The passenger was ‘de-arrested’ and released, even though they had been found in possession of prohibited drugs, and were perceived to be ‘under the influence’ of them.”

Describing the case as “unfortunate”, Mr Vine said freeing an intoxicated person raised “a number of concerns in relation to their health and safety”.

Personal use amounts of cannabis are normally defined as around an ounce. Police would normally deal with cannabis possession with a £90 fine or a warning, while possession of other Class B drugs can lead to up to five years’ imprisonment.

It is unclear why drug possession at airports should be treated with more leniency.

Mr Vine also criticised the way staff at Stansted handled “drug mules” suspected of smuggling Class A drugs by swallowing.

They were not given immediate medical attention and were allowed to visit the lavatory where they could have destroyed evidence including drugs, mobile telephones or documents, said the report.

The inspector also found members of the public had found a loophole to use duty free shops at Stansted.

Outbound passengers could buy duty free cigarettes and then “leave the airport without travelling abroad”, capitalising on lower tobacco prices in shops intended for international travellers.

He recommended the Home Office should move to prevent duty free shops being used in that manner.

A Border Force spokesman said: "Our message is clear: Importing cannabis is illegal and our officers will seize it and other illegal drugs if smugglers try to bring it into the UK.

"Like the police, Border Force officers have powers to deal with small seizures of class B and C drugs, in quantities consistent with personal use, without referring the matter to court.”


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