Police chiefs say they are making progress in Ashfield drug fight

POLICE chiefs say they are making progress in their fight against drugs despite last month’s shock figures showing a massive increase in narcotics crime in Ashfield.

Officers in Nottinghamshire seized 11 per cent more illicit drugs from the streets of Nottinghamshire in the last 12 months than in the previous year.

There were 255 more drugs seized in 2010/2011 than in 2009/2010, according to the latest figures released by the Home Office on Thursday.

The news comes after the number of reported drugs offences in Ashfield increased by a massive 68 per cent between July 2010 and June this year - which sparked concern in the district that drugs crime remained rife despite several high profile convictions of figures like drugs general Gary Hardy.

Inspector Leigh Sanders admitted the battle against drugs was a ‘tough one’ but said the seizure figures were encouraging.

“These figures are an excellent indication to us, and the public at large, that we are making cumulative strides in the policing of drug crime in Nottinghamshire,” he said.

“People are quite reluctant to report drug-related criminality and thus we gain the majority of our intelligence through the execution of proactive policing operations, namely Operation Vanguard.

“But there is still a lot of work to be done and we will continue to target and pursue anyone involved in the production and supply of illegal substances.

“It is no secret that the fight against drugs is a tough one, with much of the manufacturing arm of operations the criminal’s biggest kept secret.

“Our job is to find these drug factories, seize the illegal substances and arrest the individuals responsible, from the mule to the mastermind.

“By relentlessly disrupting their illegal activity we are forcing members of the drugs fraternity to move on until there is nowhere left to hide.”

Officers seized 2,528 drugs from criminals this year, the majority of which were Class B – a total of 2,097.

Of these, cannabis topped the table at 1,841, including 204.8kg of herbal and cannabis resin and 14,227 plants.

There were 625 Class A drugs seized, including 4.9kg of cocaine and 3.9kg of heroin.

Class C drugs accounted for 69 of the total seizure, with the remaining 20 being labelled ‘unknown’.

Operation Vanguard is an ongoing investigation launched in August 2008 to combat drug dealing and associated organised crime in Nottinghamshire.

Insp Sanders added: “Law-abiding members of the community can help us. I would like to encourage people to report any suspicious activity relating to drugs, whether witnessed on the streets, on suspicions about residents in their own neighbourhoods.”

Anyone with information relating to the illegal consumption, selling or production of drugs can contact Nottinghamshire Police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.