Working hard to end Daventry’s drug issue

MHDE-18-11-10-POLICE-NOV49-02'Sgt Sam Dobbs, Daventry Police Station. ENGNNL00120110726152901
MHDE-18-11-10-POLICE-NOV49-02'Sgt Sam Dobbs, Daventry Police Station. ENGNNL00120110726152901

The devastating impact drugs can have on young people can destroy lives, ruin careers and break families apart.

Now, officers at Northamptonshire Police have spoken out about the battle they are fighting to protect the community and in particular young people from what District Sergeant Sam Dobbs describes as a “very insidious and persistent problem”.

“I don’t think we are worse than other towns,” said Sgt Dobbs. “But we should remember we are a tight knit community.

“Daventry is a market town and there is a market for drugs in the area.

“Drugs are readily available out there in schools, clubs and pubs around the town.”

Police say that currently cannabis and crystal amphetamine are the most commonly sold drugs in the town and are easily affordable even to young adults – with a gram of cannabis costing and about £10 and crystal amphetamine marketing for £10 to £12.

This shadowy market can actively fuel crime as people hooked by illicit narcotics take to petty crime like shoplifting to feed their habit.

Nationally last year 8.9 per cent of young people questioned aged 16 to 24 admitted to taking an illicit drug and levels of drug use in 2013 to 14 were higher than in 2012 to 2013, though drug usage has not yet exceeded its peak among young adults since 1996.

More worrying still is the way in which young people are being targeted by ‘predators’ who approach them on school runs and out of the way areas of the town where they gather to meet friends and socialise.

The true scale of the impact of substance abuse can be difficult to quantify, but police crime statistics for Daventry town show that between December 2013 and November 2014 there were 124 incidents of drug related crime in Daventry, 3.89 per cent of all reported crime.

Sergeant Dobbs, who has served with the force for 25 years and worked as a sergeant for 23, added: “Of the serious crimes, one a month is recorded to have involved the use of drugs.”

Violent crimes of this type can include a range of offences, including grievous bodily harm and rape.

Tackling a problem of this scale and complexity is no easy matter and Northamptonshire Police has adopted a two pronged approach; working with partner organisations and PCSOs in the community and in schools to educate people about the dangers of illicit substances, as well as employing proactive teams which actively seek to stop the drug supply at its source.

Currently these include offices who conduct raids, CID and plain clothed officers.

Sergeant Carol Fullerton leads Northamptonshire Police’s proactive team, responsible for searching an average of two to three homes and other premises a week to catch the dealers behind Daventry’s drugs trade.

She said there is currently around a 99 per cent success rate on each warrant obtained, but called on more people to take action and report suspected offenders.

She said: “We need as much intelligence as possible and people must realise if you report something it will never come back to them.

“The more information we have the more we can do.”

She added:“Even at the cost of not doing the job, we would never put anyone in danger.”

Sergeant Fullerton added there was only a “handful” of drug dealers in the town but prison was no deterrent with many dealers treating a custodial sentence as nothing more than occupational hazard.

“We also have people in Daventry who cut the original drug and sell it on to someone else, who cuts it again for profit,” she said.

But Sergeant Dobbs said he was confident the reason substance abuse was felt so keenly in the town was itself the solution to the problem and that it is time Daventry had a “free and open debate” on the issue.

He added: “The reason I like working here is people know what is going on and talk to one another, so we have a great chance of impacting young people and help parents to divert young people away from this kind of lifestyle.

“We are trying to educate kids not to be manipulated by these people.”

Northamptonshire Police are asking anyone who has seen any suspicious activity to contact them on 101 or to call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.