CONCERNS have been raised about a new campaign seeking to stamp out drug use.

Thames Valley Police officers will offer recommendations for addiction services when they catch offenders with illegal substances.

Opponents have said the scheme is too lenient and is an example of ‘soft justice’.

The initiative will see anyone found with small quantities of any drug asked if they want to take part in a ‘diversion’ scheme.

The officer, who will confiscate the drugs and decide if there is a sufficient quantity to suspect them of dealing, will offer to help in the first instance.

If the user agrees, the officer will take their details and arrange an appointment with a local drugs service provider.

Police believe the new approach will reduce the time spent dealing with a possession offence from 12 hours to just 20 minutes.

They will record the possession of drugs as a crime, but will not take the person into custody nor give them any warning, caution or conviction.

Even if the same person is later caught again with drugs, they will escape prosecution if they are seen to be ‘positively engaging’ with the health service.

However, if someone caught with drugs appears to be a dealer, or refuses to co-operate, they will be arrested.