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LISTEN: Drug policing facing new challenges

LISTEN: Drug policing facing new challenges

Monday 03 October 2022

LISTEN: Drug policing facing new challenges

Monday 03 October 2022


The Head of Law Enforcement has said the number of islanders who are prescribed cannabis is “hugely above” initial predictions.

Ruari Hardy, pictured above, told Express that “when it was initially proposed under the NICE guidelines the predictions of the numbers of our population who would be prescribed medicinal cannabis was very, very small.

“The numbers who actually are now is significantly, well above expectations when they first looked at it. Hugely above."

Mr Hardy claimed there is evidence of some users breaching the terms and conditions of their prescription, and that the introduction of the medicine “has provided an alternative method upon which cannabis is getting into our community”. 

“It is causing us an increased concern, and it is highly likely that prescriptive cannabis is finding its way into the illegal market. However, we will continue to police it, and if we find individuals who are breaching the terms of their prescribing, we will take the appropriate action.”

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Pictured: A breakdown of Class A and B drug seizures by the Guernsey Border Agency in 2021.

Drug seizures and investigations

Bailiwick Law Enforcement’s 2021 annual report was published last week.

It states that the GBA “had to absorb a further increase in the number of illegal drug importations using the public postal system”, which “tested resources” throughout the year. 

75% of drug importations were intercepted through the post system, and 63% of all offences investigated by Customs and Immigration were drug related

But 2021 figures show a £1.3m reduction in the total estimated value of illicit drugs seized by the GBA compared to 2020. 

The difference was particularly pronounced for Class B drugs, with £334,614 seized last year compared to £1,749,685.63 in 2020. Cannabis resin represented the largest reduction – over £1.1m worth was seized in 2020 whilst just over £70,000 worth was recovered in 2021. 

Mr Hardy argued that pandemic induced travel restrictions limited “the ability of organised crime to disguise large quantities of commercial importations”, and instead there was an increase of “individuals bringing small amounts in”.  

Law Enforcement also claim to have “dismantled or seriously disrupted” two local syndicates with links to UK drug trafficking activities, through the arrests of “significant syndicate members”. 

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Pictured: Total value of controlled drugs seized in 2020. 

The 2021 report added: “particularly during the ‘lock down’ periods the amount of controlled drugs submitted via Scenes of Crime officers to the Guernsey Analyst greatly increased, as trends concerning the move to ‘vape’ based controlled drugs was observed.”

685.65ml of THC liquid, 3,375.52ml of synthetic cannabinoid liquid, and 34.7 grams of synthetic cannabinoid powder were seized between January 1 and December 31 2021.

Mr Hardy subsequently told Express: “I would just like to put very publicly that some of the vape synthetic cannabinoid substances are exceptionally toxic and dangerous, and people using them and procuring them illegally are potentially putting themselves at significant risk.

“So, like any illegal drugs one of the reasons we are very strong on trying to protect our community is these substances can cause significant harm, and they are not necessarily prepared by legitimate drug companies or the people who have the appropriate controls and regulation to make sure what it says on the tin is exactly what it is.

“We will continue to do everything we can to stop substances like that getting into our community because it could cause serious harm

“It's the same as ecstasy tablets and things like that, people think: ‘Oh I’ll just take one and I’ll be fine’, but we have seen locally the risk that can be posed by using illegal substances like that. That’s why we do the job that we do.”

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