AA Legal Documents
Law guide

Street drugs

Contents

Dealing in controlled drugs is illegal under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. This is a very serious offence that should be dealt with accordingly.

The impact

Drug dealing and drug use can cause a spiral of decline in an area as dealers take over residential premises or a street drug culture develops. The debris associated with drug use, such as used needles and syringes, can make areas dirty and unsafe.

What action can be taken to deal with drug and substance misuse?

Possession of and supply of controlled drugs is illegal under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

In many situations drug misuse can cause alarm and distress to the community. When this occurs, it is important that enforcement action is swift and effective. Enforcement action should be followed by diversion into appropriate treatment and support.

Civil measures such as ASBOs and injunctions are available to protect the community from behaviour causing harassment, alarm or distress. An order on conviction may be appropriate where someone is in court for drugs offences. Conditions of the order may include a ban from the area where drugs are being bought and used, or a specific ban on using drugs in public.

Drug use can also cause serious nuisance or disorder when it occurs within a domestic dwelling. In most cases, a tenant using drugs in a way that causes serious nuisance will be breaching their tenancy agreement. In England and Wales, the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 also introduced powers to close a premises being used in connection with the unlawful use of a Class A controlled drug, and where there is serious nuisance or disorder.

Compulsory drugs testing for trigger offences under the Drugs Act 2005

In England and Wales, under Part 2 Section 7 of the Drugs Act 2005, police can drugs test those arrested for a variety of 'trigger' offences (theft, robbery, burglary, aggravated burglary, taking a motor vehicle or other conveyance, aggravated vehicle-taking, obtaining property by deception, handling stolen goods and begging). Where a police inspector or a more senior police officer suspects that drug misuse has contributed towards an offence, that offender can also be tested for drug misuse. Those who test positive for drugs will be obliged to attend a compulsory drug assessment by specialist drugs workers to determine the extent of their drug problem and help them into treatment and other support, even if they are not charged. Those who fail to provide a sample or comply with a required assessment, face a fine of up to £2,500 and/or up to three months in prison. These measures are only applicable in certain areas with high levels of drug related crime.

What action can be taken to tackle drug dealing?

Civil orders such as anti-social behaviour orders and injunctions can be sought by the local authority using hearsay evidence and professional witnesses and may, therefore, be available to deal with behaviour even where a criminal conviction cannot be achieved.

In addition, the time periods for prohibitions contained in an anti-social behaviour order on conviction, can be suspended for the period of a prison sentence and can be used to ensure that the community continues to be protected after the release of the offender.

Housing related measures such as injunctions sought by Social Housing Landlords, ASBOs, demoted tenancies (in England and Wales) and possession, are all available in situations where a tenant is engaged in illegal behaviour. Illegal activity such as drug dealing will also usually be a breach of a tenancy agreement.

In England and Wales, the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 also introduced powers to close premises which are being used in connection with the unlawful use, production or supply of a Class A controlled drug, and where there is serious nuisance or disorder.