As part of the justice-related actions prioritised in the Government Work Plan, the Committee for Home Affairs (CfHA) and the Committee for Health & Social Care (CfHSC) are exploring pathways to improve the health, wellbeing and safety of people who use drugs, their families and friends, and the wider community.
Islanders currently have an opportunity to give their views on 'alternative and non-punitive approaches to the possession and use of small quantities of illegal drugs' in a community survey (non-punitive means 'not inflicting, involving, or aiming at punishment'). The survey has been published on gov.gg and can be found here.
The survey results, along with engagement with professional stakeholders in the first quarter of this year, will help inform the Committees' recommendations to be published in a policy letter for consideration by the States Assembly.
The ongoing survey, which will close on 11th March 2022, will gather Islanders' views on current penalties for possession and use of small quantities of drugs, harms associated with approaches focused on punishment, and potential alternative and non-punitive options.
These potential approaches, which are not mutually exclusive, include:
- Diversion - steering substance users toward health-oriented assessments and, if needed, subsequent support programmes, either instead of, or alongside, criminal justice processes.
- Deferral - a type of diversion that provides substance users with an opportunity to avoid criminal justice processes if they agree to a health-oriented assessment, and in some cases a subsequently recommended support programme.
- Depenalisation - a reduction in criminal penalties for cases in which someone is found to possess or use small amounts of illegal drugs but is not associated with more serious offences such as supplying drugs, importing drugs or other crimes.
Decriminalisation and/or legalisation of illegal drugs are not under consideration as part of this project.
Illegal drugs include controlled substances (such as cannabis, cocaine, amphetamine and heroin) as well as legally prescribed drugs (including medicinal cannabis and prescribed opioids for pain relief) that have been transferred from the individual for whom they were prescribed to another person, which is an illegal act.
The Government Work Plan is the States of Guernsey's integrated and phased plan of action for this political term.