Lockdown hasn’t just affected those of us who have legal occupations. Police in the South-West of England have highlighted that the drugs trade has been affected too, with drug dealers having to become increasingly creative to move illegal drugs around and get them to users. Police in Plymouth tweeted a photograph of an evidence sack of envelopes, all addressed to individuals around the city who had ordered their illegal drugs to be delivered through the post, at a time where social distancing means that visiting people at home or meeting in the street attracts far more attention. The Police also pointed out that the penalties for receiving drugs in this way are exactly the same for being caught possessing drugs under other circumstances.
Penalties and Consequences
The penalty for ordering your drugs to be delivered by Royal Mail will depend in a large part on both the quantity of substance found, and the type of substance. At one end of the scale, being found in possession of a small amount of cannabis for the first time will probably result in a cannabis warning notice, issued by the police without a fine or criminal conviction. At the other end of the scale, possession of a sufficient quantity of a class A drug for the police to think you are supplying as well as using could mean a life sentence. Police across the UK are coming down hard on those involved in supply of drugs, especially those involved in the “County Lines” system involving children transporting drugs from inner cities to the surrounding towns.
Perhaps the main consequence of a criminal conviction related to drugs is the ongoing impact on your career. Despite an ongoing campaign to “ban the box” asking about criminal convictions on job application forms, many employers still screen out candidates with convictions. If you take the risk of omitting a conviction from an application form and are found out at a later date the situation could be even worse as this is classed as gross misconduct by most employers.
Drugs Offences and DBS Checks
Many types of jobs require a Disclosure and Barring Service, or DBS criminal records check. There is a lot of misunderstanding around these checks, and whether or not convictions will apply. In most cases, the decision will depend on whether or not your conviction is considered spent. If a conviction is spent it will not appear on a basic disclosure check. The police may decide to disclose older information on a standard or enhanced DBS check, but it will depend on the type of work you are doing, and other information.
Police operate a filtering system when deciding what information to disclose on any certificate. Decisions about someone who has one minor conviction a long time in the past will be different from decisions about someone with a pattern of offending stretching over several decades. People with convictions are not unable to work but may be asked to prove that they have turned over a new leaf first.