POLICE have insisted they were right to press charges against a father who appeared in court accused of possessing cannabis worth just £1.50.
Unemployed David Pemment was fined £50 and ordered to pay £65 costs over the find of less than 1g of the class B drug when he appeared before Lynn magistrates on Friday.
But police chiefs say their strategy has led to a near 30 per cent drop in crime rates over the past three years.
The court heard Pemment had been cycling in Lynn with his daughter just after midnight on September 4 when he was stopped and searched by police.
Seconds earlier they had seen him quickly drop a small package on the floor.
On retrieving it, police realised it contained cannabis and charged him with possession of the drug.
Neil Meacham, mitigating, told the bench: “There was probably only enough for one cigarette or reefer or joint or something of that description.
“In short it was a very, very small amount and was clearly for personal use. He is not a big drug user.”
The court heard that Pemment had been to hospital for a hernia operation at the beginning of August and was using cannabis to help relieve the pain.
Mr Meacham added: “He had tried conventional medicine to control the pain but cannabis gave him a lot more relief.
“As a younger man he used drugs but since having a family he has sorted that kind of thing out.
“He is not a big drug user. This was simply to help him cope after the operation.”
Pemment, 41, of St Edmundsbury Road, Lynn, pleaded guilty to possessing 0.53g of a Class B drug and guilty to breaching a conditional discharge.
No action was taken on the breach of conditional discharge offence.
Following the case, both police and the Crown Prosecution Service were approached for comment.
No response had been received from the CPS as the Lynn News went to press.
But Supt Dave Marshall, who leads neighbourhood policing in West Norfolk, said: “The community is telling us drugs are a problem that they want us to tackle. We will use all the powers that we have to get drugs off the streets, whether that be one wrap of cannabis or the closure of a set-up creating over £20,000 worth of the drug.”
Currently, offenders are cautioned for a first offence and only sent to court for subsequent cases.
Supt Marshall said drug and alcohol use were linked with anti-social behaviour and other, more serious offences and their approach to drugs was in line with a wider strategy to both reduce the number of offences and address local people’s concerns.
He added: “The application of this approach has coincided with a reduction in crime of 1,143 offences or 29.2 per cent compared to the same period three years ago.”