Keir Starmer has slapped down plans by London mayor Sadiq Khan to pilot the decriminalisations of some Class B drugs including cannabis, ketamine and speed.
The Labour mayor is currently drawing up plans to decriminalise some drugs in the capital and end the prosecution of young people in possession of cannabis, according to the Telegraph.
Khan’s stance puts him not only at odds with the government but with his own party leader, who said he was “very clear” that he was “not in favour” of decriminalisation as a policy.
Asked whether he supported the Labour mayor’s pilot scheme, Starmer replied: “On the drugs legislation, I’ve said a number of times and I will say again, I’m not in favour of us changing the law or decriminalisation. I’m very clear about that.
“I haven’t seen the detail of the proposals that you’ve reported on. As I understand it they are early measures, they are some sort of pilot.
“Obviously we’ll look at those, but I’m very clear that we’re not in favour of changing the drugs laws.”
Under the pilot, under-25s found with Class B drugs in the selected boroughs of Lewisham, Bexley and Greenwich will be offered speeding awareness-style classes or counselling instead of facing arrest.
Police officers in these boroughs will be told not to arrest young people caught with the Class B drugs and those in possession will not be taken into policy custody.
Khan’s scheme also faced heavy criticism from Downing Street, which said it had “absolutely no intention of decriminalising dangerous and harmful substances for recreational use”.
The prime minister’s official spokesman told journalists: “I’ve seen some reports and speculation.
“I’m not aware of any official announcement from the mayor’s office or a published proposal. So I wouldn’t comment on speculation.
“But as we’ve said many times illegal drugs destroy lives and fuel violence.
“We have absolutely no intention of decriminalising dangerous and harmful substances for recreational use.
“Decriminalisation would leave organised criminals in control, while risking an increase in drug use which drives crime and violence, which blights our streets.
“We made that clear in our first of its kind drug strategy about how we want to take a whole system approach to tackle both supply and demand.”