‘Khat’ becomes a class C controlled drug
20 June 2014
Today, 24 June 2014, the herbal stimulant ‘khat’ becomes a class C controlled drug. In London, khat use is mainly associated with Somali, Yemeni and Ethiopian communities in the following boroughs; Brent, Ealing, Newham, Haringey, Enfield, Hillingdon, Harrow, Barnet, Hounslow and Tower Hamlets.
In the run up to the ban, extensive police engagement work with affected communities has been undertaken, including visits to ‘mafreshis’ (chewing houses), liaison with Somali voluntary organisations, distribution of leaflets and interviews with officers on Somali TV channels.
Khat bundles (pictured) are about the size of a bottle of wine. Khat decays rapidly after being harvested, with all active ingredients rendered inactive within 5-6 days. It is anticipated that within a few days of today’s ban there will be relatively little khat in circulation.
Proactive enforcement is not proportionate but any finds will be dealt with by officers on a case-by-case basis. The policing response to possession for personal use will be sensitive, with the enforcement model as follows:
- First offence: ‘khat warning’ issued
- Second offence: £60 Penalty Notice for Disorder
- Further possession offences: Arrest for possession of a controlled class C drug
Officers who come into contact with users are using the opportunity to educate them about the classification, with users signposted to support services from local Drug and Alcohol Teams (DAATs) if appropriate.