How to deal with the police in the UK if you’re carrying cannabis

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There are times that one might find themselves carrying cannabis, and probability dictates you will one day cross paths with some friendly, or not so friendly policemen. This can be a pretty nerve-wracking experience, so we got in touch with an expert to let you know the best way to avoid a cannabis possession charge.

Neil Woods was an undercover drugs detective sergeant for 14 years, until 2007. He resigned in 2012 after becoming disillusioned with the force. 

The hypothetical situation:

You’re walking down the street and you have a small bag of cannabis in your pocket. Two police officers walk towards you and stop you. They inform you that there have been some burglaries in the area and that you fit the description of the person that was witnessed leaving a crime scene. 

This is a pretty classic technique used by police officers to stop you for what would seem like a legitimate reason, leaving you to get yourself in a knot over it and give something away about an entirely unrelated crime.

What do you do?

Neil: The first thing is to be as calm as possible and be totally polite at all times. Then, still being polite, ask them exactly what they are looking for because if there’s been burglaries they should know exactly what they’re searching for.

If they tell somebody that they are about to search them they need to go through a series of things. Firstly they have to state the grounds for the search which have to be quite specific; like ‘you fit the description of someone climbing over a fence during what we think was a burglary’. So, if the grounds are stated, questioning them in a very polite manner is a good thing to do.

Then, they have to specify exactly what object they are looking for. They also have to identify themselves; say who they are, what their collar number is and which division they belong to. These are legal requirements. Also, at the end of the search they have to give you a notice which explains all the details – the things we’ve talked about have to be included on that form.

If the officers say, for example, ‘we believe a purse has been stolen and we would now like to search you’ and you’re thinking ‘right, I’ve got some cannabis on me’ they can only search you in places where that purse could reasonably be. So, if you had some cannabis in your sock they can’t search there because they already told you what object they are looking for.

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