Today the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released their new crime severity scores for England and Wales. Unsurprisingly Cannabis possession has been placed as the least severe crime you can possibly commit. Somewhat of a surprise is the category in which this crime falls, Crimes Against Society. Yes, that’s right a Crime Against Society!
What is the Crime Severity Score?
The Crime Severity Score is being considered as a new way of measuring crime in England and Wales to give a more balanced outlook on the crime taking place in communities. They have looked at a whole range of crimes and assigned them scores dependent on their social impact. The report states;
“This new measure of crime aims to address this by considering both the volume and the severity of offences, by weighting offences differently. By “severity”, we are intending to reflect the relative harm of an offence to society and the likely demands on the police, given that the police resource requirements are likely to be greater for offences that are more serious and therefore weighted more highly.”
The highest rated crimes were of course murder with a score of 7,979, and rape scoring 3,241. As you go down the scale and reach the very bottom you find possession of Cannabis scoring 3. To put this in context, dishonest use of electricity scores 7 (bypassing your meter to you and I) and betting, casino gaming and lotteries scores 25.
What Is a Crime Against Society?
With cannabis use being such a personal choice it did make one wonder, what exactly is a “crime against society”? A little research and I found this statement “Crimes against society, otherwise known as crimes against the public order, are offenses that violate society’s established norms and values”. This raises a further question, if cannabis is an offence of such low severity and it is only criminalised and categorised because it went against societal norms then why are we continuing this appalling state of affairs and why is the UK government ignoring calls for legalisation of cannabis?
It’s Time the UK Changed Cannabis Laws
With so many states and countries considering legalisation for medical and recreational purposes, (the citizens of the USA who have decided they want laws changed, Australia have just introduced medical marijuana laws, Berlin who are about to vote on recreational use and today South Africa announced they want to begin prescribing Medical Marijuana) it really is time that the UK made a concerted effort to look at these places and the successful models that have been implemented. They are, after all, benefiting society through saving money on policing, increasing tax revenues and giving people with debilitating illnesses the opportunity to live a normal life, rather than continuing to fight this increasingly futile war on drugs.