A member of the public was told to take the ‘big bag’ of cannabis he found to the police station, and wasn’t asked any questions about it when he got there, a meeting heard.
Bedfordshire police and crime commissioner (PCC), Festus Akinbusoye, told the Delivery & Beating Crime Meeting last week (October 21) that police response times are regularly brought to his attention.
In one instance, a member of the public called the police after they found a “big bag” of cannabis near a house known to be used by drug dealers.
“This gentleman then called the control room and he was told to bring this bag in himself,” the PCC said. “Now you can obviously imagine what the issue is here, because he then thought, ‘well if I get stopped by the police, how do I explain a big bag of cannabis in my car?’"
Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable, Garry Forsyth, said, “That is actually a defence in law”.
He explained that the call and the advice given would be logged and could be used by the defence in court.
“I'm not advocating that we do that obviously, but there are occasions where we can't respond to all the calls for operational reasons.
“There might have been a 30 vehicle road traffic collision on the motorway”, he added.
"That doesn't happen all the time”, the PCC said. “I think most people appreciate the fact that if there is a stabbing, a rape or some other serious issues somewhere you know that has to be a priority over a not an immediate threat to life [incident], for example.
“But the real issue here in this particular case is that he was asked to bring this to the station himself which eventually he did, and when he got to reception it was ‘just leave it there’ and he just left.
“There were no questions asked of him, no intel was requested for this.
“I know that the drugs are going to be dealt with, but what about the intel behind it? There should be some kind of curiosity about that.”
The chief constable said that if he was given the details of this case then it would be investigated.
“But what are we doing to make sure that this doesn’t happen in the first place?”, the PCC asked.
The chief constable replied that the Force has recently implemented a new process of call prioritisation. This new model is a five tier system and replaces the system where calls were classified as either fast response or fixed response.
The new five-graded response model ranges from immediate through to referred, giving a greater level of differentiation between types of calls.
“This started on October 1, the indications are that it's working reasonably well at the moment and we anticipate that it's going to see further improvements as it is bedded in and established”, he said.
“We’ve also recently reissued our THRIVE guidance on how we handle and prioritise calls. This is based on Threat, Harm, Risk, Investigation, Vulnerability and Engagement, and that's been reissued to all of our call handlers and contact staff in the force control room.