logo Burngreave Messenger Issue 32 - June 2003.

Drugs in Burngreave
Compiled by
Mark Lankshear and
Ian Clifford

page 3 of 5

Superintendent John Brennan.Cannabis a low priority
says Superintendant

For the last three months police officers in Sheffield Central District have been able to ‘use their discretion’ with people found in possession of ‘personal’ cannabis.

Unless there are other circumstances like weapons, aggression or previous convictions, they can simply confiscate it and issue a warning. Superintendent John Brennan is pressing for these warnings to be made formal policy, a first in the country, so that you would not expect to be arrested for simple possession.

‘Do we really want to put young people through the trauma of the court system and give them a criminal record for something that, for hundreds of thousands of people, is a cultural norm?’

Superintendent Brennan feels cannabis is harmful, but no more than alcohol and cigarettes. Despite large drug seizures, £3.5 million worth in this district alone last year, he says that society is still awash with drugs.

‘This isn’t a situation the police can solve, it’s up to society to decide. We have a limited amount of control, but we want to concentrate on getting rid of the violence and the street level dealing of harder drugs.’

Superintendent Brennan explained to the Messenger that this change would not mean that cannabis was legal, and is in line with government proposals to make possession of cannabis a ‘non-arrestable offence’. The details, such as how much is ‘personal’, and how many warnings you would receive before being charged, have yet to be finalised, and not everyone agrees with the changes. ‘It’s a slow process with lots of steps, but I’m working to persuade people, like surrounding police districts, of the value of this change.’