HUNDREDS of people caught by police in possession of illicit drugs for personal use have completed a drug awareness course in six months.
The DIVERT programme, funded by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner’s office, allows those caught to avoid a criminal record if they enrol on the drugs course.
Drug producers, suppliers and dealers are not given the same opportunity and are dealt with using the full force of the law.
The voluntary course is designed to help raise awareness of the dangers of substance misuse and enable people to deal with any underlying issues that are contributing to their illicit drug use.
Since the scheme launched in October, 423 people have completed the programme.
Normally when people are found with drugs they are taken to court and some will end up in jail.
This scheme offers individuals, who meet the criteria, an alternative that is designed to help them turn their backs on drugs by educating them about the harm they can cause.
It is specifically aimed at low level or first time offenders who are not thought to be causing harm to others.
Drug use in the West Midlands is thought to cost the taxpayer £1.4billion a year and destroys hundreds of lives. It also fuels crimes like burglary and shoplifting.
PCC, Simon Foster, said: “The truth is that if we can get people to turn their back on illicit drugs then we eliminate the market established by organised criminals.
“It’s important to reduce harmful drug use to improve people’s health, but if we can reduce illicit drug use then we will also reduce the crimes associated with this illegal industry.”