10:30AM, Thursday 27 February 2020
A rise in the number of stop and searches is behind a sharp hike in drug possession and drug trafficking offences being recorded, according to a police sergeant.
Data from Thames Valley Police shows a 45 per cent rise in the number of drug possession offences and a 39 per cent increase in drug trafficking offences being recorded in Windsor and Maidenhead over the past year.
According to the data, drug possession rose from 262 recorded offences in 2018/19 to 381 in 2019/20.
The information is based on notifiable offences on a rolling 12 months from February 2019 to January 2020.
PSgt Ryan Powell, problem solving sergeant based at Maidenhead Police Station, said tackling county lines and the exploitation of children around drugs are two of Thames Valley Police’s (TVP) top priorities.
TVP has been able to increase the number of stop and searches it carries out in a bid to tackle these issues, and knife crime.
“We’ve seen a several hundred per cent increase in stop and searches in Windsor and Maidenhead so, naturally, the more people you search the more things you’ll find,” he said.
Similar trends have been recorded in neighbouring local police areas (LPAs).
In Slough, drugs possession offences have increased by 33 per cent. The overall number of offences (461) was 21 per cent more than those recorded in Windsor and Maidenhead (381).
Chiltern and South Bucks has seen a 37 per cent increase, from 286 to 392.
But there was a 14 per cent decrease in offences in Wycombe – from 317 to 272.
Drugs trafficking – the supply of drugs and the resultant cash flow– in Windsor and Maidenhead has also risen 39 per cent, from 62 recorded offences in 2018/19 to 86 in 2019/20.
PSgt Powell called the increase a ‘good thing’.
“Thames Valley Police, and particularly us locally, are really strong on enforcement of drug supply,” he said.
“In the last 10 months there’s been over 35 years of prison sentences handed out to drug dealers in Windsor and Maidenhead.”
The recorded number of drug trafficking offences has also increased in Slough, from 97 in 2018/19 to 128 in 2019/20 – a difference of 32 per cent.
Chiltern and South Bucks, and Wycombe have both seen decreases in the offence, with six per cent and nine per cent drops respectively.
Offences went down in Chiltern and South Bucks from 109 in 2018/19 to 103 in 2019/20 and in Wycombe from 92 to 84 for the same period.
Breaking the cocaine and heroine habit
Drugs involved in the recorded crimes are most commonly crack cocaine and heroin, said PSgt Ryan Powell.
Offences involving these drugs are targeted by the police because of the harm they cause.
“We can see the significant risk it poses, both in terms of crime but also in drug-related death,” he said.
“That’s why it’s usually a focus for Thames Valley Police and indeed us in the area.”
In relation to crime, PSgt Powell says drug offences often involve the use of weapons and violence; those addicted to drugs, who ‘have to fund their drugs one way or another’, resort to burglary and the theft of motor vehicles and bicycles.
Since the first week of January, Thames Valley Police in the local police area of Windsor and Maidenhead have been trialling a drugs diversion programme in partnership with Resilience, the Royal Borough’s alcohol and drug service.
The aim of the programme is to offer people alternative opportunities of employment in health and in social care and divert them away from drug use in the long term.
PSgt Powell said: “So far every person that we have put into that scheme has engaged with the drug diversion team and therefore we would so far say it’s a success.
“We’re seeing significant progress in getting hard-to- reach individuals into the scheme.”
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