‘Cannabis smokers should not be housed’ says Islington councillor

Cllr Gary Poole

Cllr Gary Poole - Credit: Archant

Cannabis smokers should not be housed by the local authority, an Islington councillor has said.

Gary Poole, one of Labour’s representatives for St Mary’s ward, said it was a “scandal” that those using the drug should be allowed to live in council properties while 10,000 “decent people” were waiting to be housed.

His comments at last week’s council meeting came after executive member for community safety Paul Convery revealed that there were 863 offences for possession of cannabis in Islington over the last year.

Cllr Poole’s comments, which were met with strong applause from other councillors, were criticised by the sole opposition member, Green Caroline Russell, who said they showed an authoritarian approach.

Cllr Poole, a prison governor, said: “This is the prevalent drug on our streets. In my ward you can’t walk the length of Upper Street without being assailed by the stench of cannabis at some point on that journey and on the estates on which we have campaigned. We must all know the flats and the properties of which the tell tale signs of cannabis are there every time we knock on the doors.

“It must be a scandal when we have 10,000 decent people on the waiting list that we can allow council properties to be let to people who want to engage in criminal behaviour.”

Of the 863 offences for possession in the borough 160 arrests were made, including 14 arrests for 16 recorded offences of possession with intent to supply and with three per cent of crimes over the period being cannabis related.

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Cllr Convery said that while possession of cannabis was considered a minor offence by many, the drug was linked to serious organised crime.

“Every wrap of dope sold in this borough has traces of pain and misery on it,” he said.

Cllr Russell said the comments by Cllr Poole and the applause from other councillors were worrying .

“The suggestion that the council may wish to evict households that use cannabis is very worrying,” she said.

“How does that help families struggling with addiction? Where does this end? Do we introduce mandatory drug testing?”