UK Border Agency: do not arrest passengers for small amounts of weed
By Greg de Hoedt
Border Agency staff told ‘Passengers entering Britain caught in possession of cannabis should not be arrested’, it has emerged.
Instead of getting the usual caution or even being arrested for cannabis smuggling, those caught with under one ounce of cannabis will be let go. It is not yet known why there is to be more leniency at international borders than there is for citizens and residents already within the country.
Could it be that officials are expecting an influx of tourists from one of the increasing number of cannabis friendly administrations around the UK, such as Colorado and Uruguay? (I’ve heard the quality and deals are better there than in Britain). Or is it that so many people are found coming through with such low amounts that there is little time and resources for the UK Border Agency to police these matters? It would be terrible if officers were cavity searching an old lady for accidentally bringing back some Nederhash from Amsterdam and some terrorists waltzed through security now wouldn’t it?
Or is it even simpler than that?
It could be down to poor management and funding say bosses who have drawn attention to the potential security breaches. A lack of staff manning immigration and passports meant “These resources are important both to detect smugglers and provide a deterrent to others.”
In a report from an official immigration officer at Stansted Airport it was revealed that a passenger was found in possession of a small quantity of cannabis, was arrested and then dearrested and released as it was assumed he was still under the influence – something that is not actually against the law. Staff involved were criticised as this went against earlier orders to not arrest passengers under these circumstances unless there was aggravating factors.
The advice to UK Border Agency staff has not been limited to cannabis and includes small amounts of amphetamines and mephedrone in quantities considered for ‘personal use’.
While those found with what are still illicit drugs on them will not be arrested and detained, they will still face having the substances taken out of their possession. Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, John Vine, two years ago released a similar report detailing passengers flying into Gatwick who had had drugs confiscated and no fine or other legal action was taken.
Last year Theresa May was scrutinised for dropping security measures at UKBA allowing passengers to enter the country unchecked.
A UK 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, UK 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.
“Since we split the UK Border Force from UKBA, it has been making significant improvements in its performance – security has been strengthened and excessive queues are gone.”
Non flying passengers were also able to take advantage of the duty-free deals due to a fault in the airport layout, making it possible to buy products such as cigarettes and alcohol at prices usually only available to travellers. This was only brought to staffs attention when one customer came back twice in one day!
It looks like it doesn’t matter if they are legal or not there’s something not quite normal going on at Stansted Airport when it comes to drugs.
The spokesperson continued “Transforming all areas of the UK Border Force will take time but I am confident that we are making the right changes with security now at the heart of everything UK Border Force does.”
UK Cannabis Social Clubs and NORML UK would like to make it clear that this is not a free pass to try and smuggle back small quantities of cannabis – but good luck if you do.