Hundreds of West Midland drug users avoid criminal record by enrolling on course

Hundreds of people caught by police with illegal drugs for personal use have completed an awareness course since its official launch just over six months ago.

The DIVERT programme, which is funded by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, allows those caught in possession of drugs to avoid a criminal record if they enrol on the drugs course.

Drug producers, suppliers and dealers are not given the same opportunity.

The course has been designed to help raise awareness of the dangers of substance misuse and enable people to deal with any underlying issues that contribute to their drug use.

Since October last year, 423 people have completed the DIVERT programme.

The programme is specifically aimed at low level or first time offenders who are not thought to be causing harm to others. Nine out of 10 people who used the DIVERT programme since it launched last year were caught with cannabis.

Drug use in the West Midlands is thought to cost the taxpayer £1.4 billion a year – and it also fuels crimes including burglary and shoplifting.

The initiative, which is voluntary, is offered to people who police think could benefit from some support and education.

The DIVERT programme is being offered across the entire seven boroughs of the West Midlands urban area – including in the Black Country.

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Simon Foster, said: “I am very pleased to see this programme is proving so effective.

“The truth is that if we can get people to turn their back on illicit drugs then we eliminate the market established by organised criminals.

“It’s important to reduce harmful drug use to improve people’s health, but if we can reduce illicit drug use then we will also reduce the crimes associated with this illegal industry.”

Arron Owen, Cranstoun’s national lead for criminal justice, added: “We are pleased to see our DIVERT course being used so well in the West Midlands.

“Cranstoun believes in the use of diversionary services and the benefits of harm reduction and early intervention.

“Our partnership with the West Midlands PCC and West Midlands Police will ensure this service goes from strength to strength and we hope to work with more regions to take DIVERT across the country.”

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