Friday 11 February 2022
As part of the justice-related actions prioritised in the Government Work Plan, designed to foster a safe, just and tolerant society, 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 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 Project Board leading this work includes Deputy Andy Taylor and Advocate Peter Harwood (who is leading on the Justice Framework) from CfHA as well as Deputy Aidan Matthews and Emily Litten from CfHSC. The survey results, along with engagement with professional stakeholders in the first quarter of this year, will help inform the Board's recommendations to both Committees. Any subsequent Committee recommendations will be published in a policy letter for consideration by the States Assembly.
Deputy Al Brouard, President of the Committee for Health & Social Care, said:
'The harms associated with substance use are well-documented, and it is increasingly recognised that steering substance users toward health-oriented support can result in beneficial outcomes, not only for substance users themselves but for their families and friends, and ultimately the community as a whole. This is especially relevant in relation to young substance users.'
Deputy Rob Prow, President of the Committee for Home Affairs, said:
'Justice policy needs to continuously evolve in alignment with the Bailiwick's needs, and this action is among the first set out in the Government Work Plan workstream focused on keeping us safe and secure. Delivering it involves cross-committee working as well as consultation with professional stakeholders and the community as a whole, and we are eager to gather the range of input among Islanders.'
The 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.