Councillors met with North Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Dave Jones and Inspector Steve Breen on Monday (December11) for their annual briefing on policing in Harrogate.
But one of the biggest concerns raised at the meeting was ‘anti-social behaviour’ and other ‘serious issues’ as result of the misuse of cannabis.
Lib Dem councillor Pat Marsh said: “Through my own case work, serious issues have been raised about young people becoming violent and not being dealt with. I know in the previous council offices at Crescent Gardens they started shutting the doors of an evening because there was antisocial behaviour through the misuse of cannabis.”
Conservative Councillor Nathan Hull reinforced Coun Marsh’s comments suggesting that part of the problem was that young people are not clear on the law.
He said: “The biggest problem I have as a parent of teenage children, with cannabis, is that they don’t know what the policy is, they’re not clear, they don't think possession of cannabis is illegal, their friends don’t think it’s illegal.
I like everybody else, don’t want to see young people being criminalised but there is a very real perception that it is not illegal and therefore there is no fear from these kids because nothing is done about it.
Mr Jones said that since the start of this year, there had been a total of 40 offences for possession of cannabis in the Harrogate District, the majority of which inolved people aged 16 and 17.
Answering concerns Mr Jones said police had identified 60 people involved with those 40 offences and that the police had written to parents and schools to identify the problem.
He noted that drug dogs had been taken into schools to raise awareness and pointed to educational programmes such as ‘Crucial Crew’.
He said: “There is a clear policy, possession of cannabis is against the law and that hasn’t changed since the Misuse of Drugs Act in the 1970s.”
But Mr Jones highlighted that sometimes enforcement of policy isn’t always enough.
He said: “I’m a father of four and just because police tell them they can’t do something doesn’t mean there is a guarantee they won’t go ahead and do it anyway and listen to their peers.
He added: “We have to get to a place where we can educate our children around them making sensible decisions about their lives.”