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West Midlands drugs diversion scheme helps over 400 in six months

Hundreds of people caught in possession of illicit drugs for personal use have accessed a drug awareness course, a PCC has revealed.

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

Funded by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster, the voluntary scheme allows anyone in the county caught in possession of illicit drugs to avoid a criminal record if they enrol on a drugs course.

It is designed to help raise awareness of the dangers of substance misuse and enable people to deal with any underlying issues that are contributing to their drug use.

The Office for the Police and Crime Commissioner said it's "an alternative that is designed to help them turn their backs on drugs by educating them about the harm they can cause".

Nine out of 10 people who used the DIVERT programme since it launched last year were caught with cannabis.

Drug producers, suppliers and dealers are not given the same opportunity and are dealt with using the "full force of the law".

PCC Foster said drug use in the West Midlands is thought to cost the taxpayer £1.4bn a year and “destroys hundreds of lives and “fuels crimes like burglary and shoplifting”.

He went on to say: “I’m 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, said: “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.”

The previous PCC David Jamieson's, who gave £60,000 to the 12 month scheme when it launched, had a progressive policy on tackling the issue of drugs in West Midlands.

His successor appears to be continuing with the two pronged approach of being tough on criminal dealers and suppliers, while trying to help those who use drugs to come off them in.

A similair project is also underway in Thames Valley.

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