A drug strategy launched today this week by Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police aims to make life a misery for dealers while working with partners to steer addicts towards treatment and youngsters away from taking them.
The three-year strategy drawn up by the forces in alliance supports the framework of the National Drug Strategy, with the overarching aim being to protect people from harm.
The focus will be on treatment and targeting those who cause the most harm through drugs.
Central to this will be reducing supply and demand. The former will be achieved by identifying and dismantling trafficking and dealer networks, closing drug ‘factories’ and combating the markets themselves.
The forces are already making good headway and in the 18-24 months up to April this year (2013) controlled drugs with a combined street value in excess of £10,000,000 were seized across Warwickshire and West Mercia.
The most prevalent street drug across both forces is cannabis and in the year to 31 August, 2013, a total of 199 offences of cannabis production (cultivation) were recorded by West Mercia Police and 162 by Warwickshire Police. In April this year (2013) alone 544 kilos of cannabis plants were seized and destroyed across both areas.
Demand will be reduced through early intervention, working with partners to prevent young people taking drugs. There will also be a Drugs Intervention Programme and Arrest Referral Workers provided for those who are taken into police custody through their involvement in drugs.
Execution of ‘drugs warrants’ and other Intelligence-led police operations will continue to disrupt pushers as well as targeting users who persistently cause problems in their community through acquisitive crime, such as shoplifting and burglary, in order to feed their addiction.
These elements have been incorporated into a tactical plan drawn up by Warwickshire and West Mercia in support of the strategy. The plan also involves a wide range of partners such as councils, Community Safety Partnerships and health agencies.
Implementation of the new drug strategy is being co-ordinated by Detective Superintendent Graeme Pallister.
He said: “Compared to the situation in many major cities our drug problems may appear small but if drugs have made your life a misery then it’s still a misery, whether you live next door to a dealer, your son or daughter has become an addict, or you have been burgled by a drug user looking to fund their habit.
“This strategy is aimed at taking the misery out of people’s lives as much as is humanly possible. It’s all about reducing harm in our communities.
“We want to prevent the next generation of users and we will be working with partners and schools to turn youngsters off the whole concept of drugs by educating them about the harsh reality of what it really means to be affected by it.
“To the drug dealers and pushers our message is simple: we want to make life a misery for anyone making a living out of other people’s misery. We will pursue you relentlessly, we aim to put you in jail and we will seize any property or other assets you have gained from your criminality.
“As for the users we will do everything we can with our partners to help them get off drugs and lead clean lives, if they want to. However, those who persist in taking drugs and are involved in offending will be targeted as their activities again cause misery and harm to others and that will not be tolerated.”
A recent Home Office report showed that the use of illicit drugs in England and Wales was at its lowest level since records began.
Det Supt Pallister added: “While that is good news and suggests we are winning the battle against drug crime we are in no way complacent and recognise there is still a lot of work to be done.
“Our new strategy will ensure that we continue to tackle the impact of drugs on individuals and neighbourhoods, reduce the crime associated with drug use and make our communities feel safer.”
The new drug strategy can be viewed on the Warwickshire Police website at www.warwickshire.police.uk and on the West Mercia Police website at www.westmercia.police.uk