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  • Writer's pictureDahlia Foundation

Opinion: Peterborough police and volunteers doing their best to help tackle misery brought by drugs

The Government published its 10-year drug strategy ‘From Harm to Hope’ in 2021. It follows a two-stage review by Dame Carol Black of drugs policy in the UK looking at the illegal drugs supply into the UK and how prevention, treatment and recovery can be improved. The strategy aims to cut crime and save lives by breaking drug supply chains, delivering a world class treatment and recovery system and achieving a generational shift in the demand for drugs.

As Police and Crime Commissioner for Peterborough and Cambridgeshire, I have taken on a leadership role to provide oversight of the delivery of the drug strategy locally. Crime Prevention and Robust Policing are key priorities in my Police and Crime Plan. I know how strongly the public feel about drug crime in their communities and I share the Government’s commitment to tackling illegal drugs.

The priority for me is to support a partnership approach and ensure all agencies are working as collectively as they can to address the issues. This is why I hosted a visit by Dame Carole Black to the county in the summer of 2022 to initiate a partnership discussion on the strategy, and why I now chair a new countywide High Harms Board which is looking at these issues in depth with key strategic partners on a regular basis. It is an area I will continue to monitor closely to support progress.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary works relentlessly to target criminals who exploit our communities. This has brought additional arrests, disruption to County Lines,

seizures of weapons and the safeguarding of vulnerable people.

In the 12 months up to 31 March 2023, targeted police work to disrupt county lines and take drugs off the streets in Cambridgeshire saw officers identifying 36 per cent more drug trafficking and 34 per cent more drug possession offences. Hypernova, the county’s largest-ever operation to tackle exploitation and illegal drugs, resulted in 31 people charged for 139 drug and human trafficking offences, the dismantling of 30 county lines and the seizure of £600,000 worth of drugs. In June, targeted work against cannabis growing facilities across the county saw cannabis worth more than £3m seized following 19 drugs raids. Arrests and charges were made. Even with these impressive results we are by no means complacent. Criminals are adept at evolving their tactics and officers continually monitor and respond as new threats emerge.

I know our colleagues in public health and the charity/voluntary sector work just as hard to support drug users and help them break the cycle of addiction. But treatment or enforcement by themselves are not enough. Successful recovery depends on a unified response with housing and employment part of a wider support package, and changes in the way people with addictions are treated in the criminal justice system.

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