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News (Media Awareness Project) - UK: Backing For Softer Sentencing For Hard Drugs
Title:UK: Backing For Softer Sentencing For Hard Drugs
Published On:2012-01-25
Source:Western Mail (UK)
Fetched On:2012-01-26 06:01:36
BACKING FOR SOFTER SENTENCING FOR HARD DRUGS

Drugs rehabilitation experts in Wales yesterday backed a move which
could see some drug dealers caught with heroin, cocaine or cannabis
avoid jail.

Under guidelines which come into force next month, offenders who only
play a "subordinate" role in drug gangs receive a community order for
supplying "small" quantities of drugs.

But the Sentencing Council guidelines also include up to 50 grams - or
"wraps" - of cocaine, up to a kilo of cannabis or 99 Ecstasy tablets.

Drug mules, who bring narcotics into the country and are often
exploited by organised criminals, could also get a community sentence
if caught with relatively small amounts of class C drugs.

It is the first time all courts in England and Wales would be handed a
specific chart setting out how the role and quantity of drugs should
impact on sentencing.

Martin Blakebrough, of Newport drugs support agency Kaleidoscope,
said: "It's the big time dealers we should be targeting, without whom
we wouldn't have drugs in the streets."

The Sentencing Council, which sets the guidelines for judges, said
those used to bring class A drugs into the UK, would still face jail,
but were likely to serve less time behind bars.

And offenders who were employed by someone else to import or export
drugs regularly for profit would face even tougher sentences, up to a
maximum of life.

Drug mules, often women forced or tricked into the crime, could face a
starting point of six years if deemed to be playing a "lesser role" in
bringing in up to 1kg of heroin or cocaine.

Anyone dealing to children or teenagers would also face tougher
treatment.

DrugScope's Martin Barnes said he hoped the guidelines would encourage
more judges to refer people who are dependent on drugs for treatment.

He said: "Good quality treatment is instrumental to breaking the cycle
of drugs and crime."
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