Sharp rise in drug crime across Mansfield and Ashfield

44 Newport Crescent, Mansfield, scene of a cannabis find. One of the bedrooms with mature plants.
44 Newport Crescent, Mansfield, scene of a cannabis find. One of the bedrooms with mature plants.

RECORDED drug crimes in Mansfield and Ashfield have risen sharply over the past four years but police insist they are simply tracking down more culprits.

Nearly 300 more drug crimes were recorded both areas last year compared to 2008.

Figures released to Chad under the Freedom of Information Act show the number of offences have risen steadily each year.

In Ashfield the figure has more than doubled and the number in Mansfield has risen nearly 20 per cent.

In total the figure for both areas has gone up from 508 in 2008 to 784 last year.

Cannabis remains is the most commonly used drug with the number of cannabis farms in the UK more than doubling since 2007/8.

In Nottinghamshire the figure has risen from 55 in 2007/8 to 200 in 2010/11.

Inspector Carl Holland from Ashfield North division, which covers Sutton and Kirkby, said his officers have executed over 70 drug warrants since April 2011.

He said harder drugs such as heroin are becoming more difficult to get hold of which means cannabis use is becoming even more widespread.

Insp Holland said: “The number of offences have gone up because we have targeted it. We take it very seriously. An increase in offences means we have uncovered more offences not necessarily that more offences have taken place.”

The inspector is baffled by people who claim police are wasting time and money targeting cannabis producers and users.

He said: “Some don’t see cannabis as a problem but one yield can produce about £100,000 of cannabis. Growers can produce up to three yields a year, that is a lot of money. Where is that money going? To fund other crime.

“The drugs themselves create other crimes such as theft, burglary and car crime.

“We have linked our work on drug crime to the reductions in inquisitive crime. By targeting drug dealers we have reduced crime in general.

“We are also targeting people who handle stolen goods. If we take out the handlers, drug users haven’t got anywhere to sell stolen goods. By tackling the drug dealers as well it gives the criminal nowhere to sell their goods and nowhere to buy their drugs.”

We reported in Chad recently how cannabis farms were discovered by police at properties in Sudbury Drive, Huthwaite and Newport Crescent, Mansfield.

More than 200 plants were found at the house in Sudbury Drive.

“You wouldn’t think a house in an affluent area like that would be growing 200 plants,” Insp Holland said. “But we discovered it thanks to intelligence from an anonymous call to Crimestoppers.

“Residents don’t want drug dealers living next door to them with people and cars coming and going all the time.

“We react to the intelligence very quickly. Members of the public will inform us if they suspect a growing factory and we aim to act on that intelligence as soon as possible.

“If residents tell me they believe a neighbour is dealing drugs, I will take them seriously and do what ever is humanly possible to act on that information - 71 warrants in 12 months is proof of that.”

Insp Holland hopes driving the drugs out of the area will help send other crimes elsewhere.

“People have no reason to commit other crimes if they can’t get the drugs,” he said. “They may have to travel out of town to get the drugs therefore commit crimes elsewhere.”

But when people are caught committing drug offences the police work closely with partner agencies to ensure the right support and deterrents are in place.

Insp Holland said: “We are not just moving people through the courts we are working closely with our partner agencies and landlords. It means tenants can threatened with eviction and we can make sure people get the right help they need. “But my message to anybody that really wants to grow and deal in drugs is - I will come after them and I will find them.”