Local Conservatives have expressed their shock at new figures which reveal a doubling of the number of penalty notices for disorder issued across Staffordshire.
In figures released by the Government this week, the number of disorder notices issued by Police has shot up from 1450 in 2004 to 3209 in 2006.
Andrew Griffiths, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Burton and Uttoxeter said:
“I am very concerned by such a huge increase in the amount of penalty notices issued by our local Police force; the number has more than doubled in just 2 years. Either crime is increasing massively, or this system is being used instead of arresting perpetrators of crime and disorder. Our Police do a great job but they are under enormous pressure. A penalty notice may help the Government to keep crime figures down, but it doesn’t help residents in Burton and Uttoxeter who have to live with the consequences of crime and disorder”.
The Penalty Notice for Disorder (PND) Scheme was introduced to all Police forces in England and Wales in 2004. Under the scheme, police can issue ‘on-the-spot fines’ of £50 or £80 for a specified range of minor disorder offences.
Commenting on the number of formal warnings issued for the possession of cannabis, Andrew said,
“1282 people formally warned for possession shows that we have failed to get the message about the dangers of cannabis across, particularly to our young people. What worries me most is the anecdotal evidence that pushers are now selling the stronger and more dangerous variety of cannabis known as ‘skunk’”.
The Government downgraded cannabis to Class C in January 2004, making most cases of cannabis possession a non-arrestable offence. Psychiatrists are now concerned about the effects of skunk, which contains high levels of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) which they fear is linked to schizophrenia, paranoia, and in some cases suicide.
Mr Griffiths added,
“In my view, the reclassification of cannabis sent out completely the wrong message to young people. We must, as a priority, tackle the problem of drugs in our community. There is little doubt that drug use leads to ill health, family breakdown and crime, and we need to convey that message to young people loud and clear.”