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Police have been accused of decriminalising cannabis by the back door, as official figures show nearly nine in 10 people in parts of the country are escaping court after being caught with the drug. The Home Office data reveal the most lenient forces are charging just one in eight (13 per cent) offenders, with the remainder let off with a caution, community resolution or on-the-spot fine. By contrast, the toughest police forces are charging up to 60 per cent of people caught with the class B drug, which has increased in its potency and been linked to psychosis and mental ill health. Nationally, just under 24 per cent of those caught with the drug are charged with possession, down from 29 per cent three years ago. Of the 91,479 caught with cannabis in England and Wales last year, 21,672 were charged with the remainder dealt with through out of court settlements that did not result in a criminal record. Just over 17,500 (19 per cent) were let off with a cannabis warning, 6,148 (seven per cent) were given a caution and 7,410 (eight per cent) were given an on-the-spot fine. Most – 38,832 (42 per cent) – received a community resolution, which usually involves the suspect admitting the offence on the street, apologising at the scene and accepting a printout of mental health implications of cannabis. The data showed the toughest police forces were five times more likely to charge an offender than the most lenient. Avon and Somerset police charged 63 per cent, while Surrey charged 13 per cent.