Over 25 pc of crime linked to drugs

LAST week saw dozens of homes raided and more than 40 people arrested in a crackdown on Calderdale's biggest drug dealers.

The aim of the operation - the biggest of its kind run by Calderdale Police - was to target people dealing Class A and B drugs and serious organised crime.

But the raids were just part of much wider-ranging and long-term work to tackle drug dealers and drug-linked crime.

Of all the crimes committed in Calderdale, police estimate between 25 and 30 per cent is related to drugs.

Superintedent Stan Bates, head of Operations at Calderdale Police, has been involved in looking at how police respond to drug dealing at high levels both in this country and overseas.

He led the force's first partnership project aimed at dealing with drugs, was the detective inspector responsible for the force's drugs strategy and worked wit the Home Office to be involved with the drugs strategy directorate.

He was also part of teams who travelled to the Ukraine and Belaruss to share practices for drugs and drug-fuelled crime.

He said: "When I joined the force in the 1980s the link between drugs and crime was not as strong but now they are well proven.

He said he remembers his superior telling him when he joined the force's drugs squad that if all the police did was arrest drug dealers, they had failed in their aim to reduce crime.

He believes police have to work with partners such as health services and social workers to encourage drug addicts to seek help, and in turn stop committing crime to feed their habits.

"You have drug users that are embedded in a situation. Nobody starts out with a life ambition of becoming a heroin addict," he said.

"It's important to say that not everyone who tries drugs goes on to become a problematic drug user.

"But if you take an addictive substance you can become addicted to that substance and in some cases your income will not support your habit.

"That's when people can start to commit crime."

He said the aim of last week's operation was to disrupt the drugs market, identify the people involved and send a clear message out to any drug dealers that Calderdale is not a safe place for them to operate.

He hopes by dealing with drugs, they will cut the number of crime victims.

He pledged officers would continue to investigate drug dealers with every technique available to them but he urged people to help by coming to them with intelligence.

Anyone who can help should call police on 0845 6060606.

People with concerns about crime or drug dealing in their area can also call CrimeStoppers, where information can be passed on anonymously, on 0800 555111.

Detective Inspector Mel Siddall, head of Calderdale's Offender Management in Partnership Team, added: "We work closely with the drugs intervention programme and other drug services in Calderdale.

"Our part of last week's operation was to provide ongoing support and advice to Class A and B drug users.

"For those whose lives are being affected by drugs, I would encourage anyone to contact Calderdale Substance Misuse Service on 0800 0283901 or at www.calderdalesms.co.uk."