British Police Community Support Officers want more powers to tackle cannabis.

British Police Community Support Officers want more powers to tackle cannabis.

By Richard Shrubb

Swindon police community support officers (PCSOs) are calling for more powers to bust people smoking weed in the town. Policing on the cheap would just get cheap and nasty

On the 29th December Swindon, Wiltshire’s PCSOs demanded that they have the powers to confiscate and arrest weed smokers. In the Evening Advertiser, “PCSOs Lee Hare and Kate Jackson said extensions to the power of police community support officers to deal with cannabis smokers at the roadside could make their job easier. Currently, they must call out a police constable if they find someone in possession of the class B drug, as the PCSOs are unable to arrest or caution suspects.”

The Police Federation police union doesn’t appear too happy with the idea of PCSOs at all let alone them having more powers. Speaking to the Daily Mail earlier this year regarding the UK’s own Keystone Cops to investigate burglaries, Simon Kempton, of the Police Federation said: ‘This is policing on the cheap. Chief constables are simply running out of properly trained people to send to jobs.’

What exactly are PCSOs?

A PCSO hobby bobby with a seized cannabis plant.

A Hobby Bobby paid for by the taxpayer is very pleased with himself confiscating this therapeutic plant while serious crimes with actual victims go undetected.

According to a 2012 Telegraph article, “Technically they have fewer powers than special constables, who have the same authority as officers, but more than neighbourhood wardens and are employed by the police.”

The powers are focused on antisocial behaviour and while they can confiscate weed from teenagers they have to wait while one of their proper police colleagues comes and deals with the problem. Considering the PSCO’s job is to reduce the workload of the police by tackling minor problems, calling the police to get involved after a minor drugs bust is hardly a good use of their time.

The Telegraph again: “Sometimes known as “Blunkett’s Bobbies”, they are often tasked with maintaining links with the local community and will visit victims of crime to provide reassurance.”

Should teenagers have weed?

At Feed the Birds we have no problem with the idea that teenagers shouldn’t touch weed, unless for medical purposes under the supervision of a qualified medical professional. Our problem is that the way the issue is being dealt with today is that it can’t really be controlled.

One of the advantages of legalising weed is that the responsibility of who gets what drugs is transferred from a dishonest person with nothing to lose to an honest person with everything to lose. A drug dealer will get time in prison regardless to whom they sell drugs to. An off-license or supermarket selling drugs to underage people will lose their livelihood, be fined heavily and get slapped with a criminal record – you can see the incentives as to which is the better way to protecting kids from drug use.

Giving ‘plastic policemen’ more powers to fight the losing war on drugs will only devalue proper policing and make policing on the cheap ever more attractive, potentially leading to more Tory police cuts. That can’t be good for a society suffering the worst privations of austerity with crime skyrocketing and inequality driving crime levels even harder as the ‘have-nots’ hate the ‘haves’ even more. Let’s be sensible and change the war on drugs direction, releasing more funds for proper policing to tackle proper crime.

Richard Shrubb

Richard is a marijuana, water sports and electric vehicles writer based in Dorchester, Dorset. Living in Prince Charles model housing estate, Poundbury, he is an avowed republican, community and Labour Party activist. Visit his website at for more about what he does.

1 reply
    ARLETTE says:

    In America, where the police unions, big pharma, the tobacco industry and the privatised prisons are opposed to ending prohibition. If cannabis prohibition ended, it would have a knock-on effect which would mean unemployment for many who work in those sectors. I even once had an acquaintance who was a barrister and who was always complaining about the lack of work (i.e., not enough crimes were being committed). Prosecuting others for harmless and victimless crimes is a very profitable industry.


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