Zero tolerance

From: (CLCIA)
Subject: Busted for a speck in London! Zero tolerance zone!
Date: Wed, 23 Sep 1998 03:00:41 +0100

Nathan is a graduate of Chelsea Art School who earns a marginal living as a street performer and clown. Couple of weeks ago he went out on the town with his wife and cousin, who was about to go travelling. In the early hours of the morning they were chilling out in Soho Square when Nat noticed a couple of policeman approaching, so he fished out a ready-rolled joint from his pocket and threw it away (mistake number 1: act natural). The coppers saw his movement, produced a torch and shone it around until they found the joint.

Asking Nat what it was and why he threw it away, Nat admitted that the hand-rolled cigarette contained cannabis (mistake number 2: make them prove it). They asked him to accompany them to the station, whereupon his cousin started freaking out (mistake 3: don't wind them up) and his Japanese wife demanded to know what was going on. So they were taken to the station, too, but swiftly released. Nat was duly processed and informed that the Metropolitan Police - at least @ West End Central - now operate a policy of 'zero tolerance' and that he would be prosecuted for possession. Possession, that is, of a single joint containing a miniscule amount of cannabis.

Nat appeared in Horseferry Road Magistrates court on September 15, represented by the duty solicitor (mistake number 4: get a sympathetic lawyer) and admitted his guilt (mistake number 5: offer some mitigation, at least). Although he is not too clear about what exactly happened in court, the upshot is that he has to appear again on October 5th and is likely to receive a fine and a criminal record, even though he has no previous convictions and was holding just a single joint containing 'a speck of crap street hash'.

All this is happening just as Nat has been offered a chance to achieve his dream of joining the Cirque du Soleil and is about to travel to the South of France for a week-long audition. If he gets the job, a recent conviction for cannabis possession may mean that he will be denied the opportunity to live and work in narconazi France.

Hopefully, this won't happen, but do be warned that the policy of cautioning appears to have been suspended in central London. If you are planning to attend the Bears' picnic this Saturday, stick with the crowd. If you venture into the fleshpots of Soho afterwards, do not skin up or spark up on the street. See you there!

Regards, Russell