Scotland is considering implementing a drug diversion programme that will see those caught with small quantities of drugs referred for help rather than criminalised, it has emerged. The move will be inspired by work started in several English cities including Durham and Bristol. Last week Thames Valley Police unveiled plans for a three-month pilot of a diversion scheme, which will see police use an app to refer those caught with small amounts of illegal drugs straight to support services.

A commitment to treat addiction as a public health rather than criminal justice issue was outlined in the Scottish Government’s updated drug strategy, launched in November.

It is now understood that Police Scotland will be looking at the potential to implement a diversionary scheme, which English research shows cuts reoffending rates and reduces police and court time, in 2019.