Cannabis Diversion Scheme (CDS)
CDS participant feedback video
Click the below link to see a full evaluation of the Hertfordshire scheme
Download PDF: Evaluation of Herts Cannabis Diversion Scheme
The scheme has successfully engaged the young, hidden, at risk population and delivered significant outcomes by reducing Cannabis usage, purchasing, frequency of use and re-offending. It has also evidenced the positive outcomes that can be achieved through a brief intervention, utilising a prevention model for this hidden group.
For those who have already attended previously the level of consumption was very high and having completed the programme there was a significant reduction.
100% in morning users
98% rated the programme as excellent or good
86% of people who attended would recommend the course to other Cannabis users
76% stated they wanted to cease their Cannabis having completed the course
75% reduction in daily users
48% reduction in the average spending on Cannabis from £104.50 to £50.75 per week
30% have reduced their usage from all day to evenings only
23% reported a complete cessation after completing the progarmme
The Cannabis Diversion Scheme has been developed to address and tackle the young, hidden and at risk population of Cannabis smokers. Currently there are an estimated 2.2 million people in the UK who smoke Cannabis and half of all 16 to 29 year olds have tried it at least once. This is in spite of Government warnings about the health risks associated with Cannabis and many people see it as a harmless substance that helps you to relax and ‘Chill Out’. On the other hand, recent research has suggested that it can be a major cause of psychotic illnesses in those who are genetically vulnerable.
Following a similar strategy to the Alcohol Diversion Scheme there is now an effective intervention to change behavior where it successfully tackles the following:
The link between the possession of Cannabis and offending
Stages of addiction
Physical & psychological harms
The impact on a person’s future life
In 2009 we proposed to Hertfordshire Constabulary that we run a pilot scheme similar to the Alcohol diversion Scheme in relation to people being caught in possession of Cannabis and with an alternative to paying the full PND fine by attending a course. This is aimed at encouraging the attendees to reduce their Cannabis use or stop using it completely and assess the impact of their use through anonymous interactive questions, also to view the impact it was having on their lives and those around them. The method is to educate, inform and empower attendees to make significant changes within their lives and to give them the knowledge they need to make those necessary changes.
The course represents an opportunity for vital Police savings in resources and time related to Cannabis users; it additionally provides a cohesive and potent link to an effective health prevention initiative that places no demand on current policing resources.
The opportunities to replicate the scheme in new locations are vast and it is currently run in Hertfordshire, Devon and Cornwall, with further locations soon to take up the scheme. The Cannabis Diversion Scheme supports a number of Government strategies relating to offending, health, social and economic. Following a successful review of its effectiveness it is now recognised nationally as a positive step to work with the young and hidden population of Cannabis users.
How it works
The mechanics of the scheme are all adults who are arrested and receive Fixed Penalty Notice for:
They are provided with a leaflet advising them that should they wish to attend a three hour course for a fee of £40 (currently) the current £80 penalty notice will be waived. However the PND will still be recorded against them.
Druglink offers the course with a choice of both date and venue. After successful completion of the course the Central Ticket Office is advised and deals with the PND accordingly.
The scheme compliments and supports existing interventions; it neither duplicates work or undermines existing strategies. It engages a hidden group who are at risk of health related, offending, economic and social problems. It evidences that a significant population of Cannabis users benefit directly from a brief intervention and an influential number achieve abstinence.
The programme Druglink delivers to attendees is interactive and encourages offenders to engage, it allows them to face up to the reality of being caught in possession of Cannabis but also to the very real danger to their own health. It is brought home to them in a selection of interactive questions, short films and group exercises detailing how Cannabis use can affect so many areas of someone’s life. The programme is designed to look at the effect Cannabis has on the memory, balance and coordination, motivation, the effects and strains it can have on relationships and further leading on to the impact on their future lives supported by the legal consequences associated with Cannabis use. The aim is not to 'preach' but to help people take more responsibility for their lives and health, it has made positive and successful changes to those that have attended to finally stop using Cannabis for good.
Comments made by attendees
“Before the course I was unemployed and had no motivation to do anything, my life revoloved around smoking. Since the course I have stopped smoking Cannabis and I have now got myself a full time job. It really sorted me out”.
“After the course I decided to distance myself from all those that smoked Cannabis. My mum now gets regular money from me and I have managed to now save enough for a deposite on my own place”.
“I stopped using Cannabis altogether after the course and ut has changed my life. It really opened my eyes and it allowed me to make informed decisions about my future”.