'Record' amount of drugs taken off streets as Northumbria Police seizures rise
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The National Police Chiefs' Council said officers across England and Wales are taking even more of the highest-harm illegal drugs off the streets and preventing them from bolstering a "multi-million pound illicit market".
Home Office data shows Northumbria Police made 5,087 drug seizures in 2019-20, up 8% compared to 4,699 the previous year.
That equated to a rate of 3,475 seizures per million population – above the national average of 2,808 per million.
In Northumbria, cannabis was the most commonly seized drug, which was involved in 54% of seizures where the drug type was known in 2019-20. This was followed by cocaine (15%) and amphetamines (6%).
Drugs could not be classified in 14% of seizures, according to the data.
While neighbouring force area, Durham Constabulary, has also seen a rise with 1,704 drug seizures in 2019-20, up 3% compared to 1,660 the previous year.
In Durham, cannabis was the most commonly seized drug, which was involved in 55% of seizures where the drug type was known in 2019-20. This was followed by cocaine (9%) and amphetamines (3%).
Northumbria Police’s Detective Chief Inspector Paul Woods said: “Despite the unprecedented challenges brought about by the coronavirus, we have still manged to carry out a number of large-scale operations and investigations, seizing record-amounts of harmful substances and preventing them from being sold on our streets.
“Most notably this year, we took part in Operation Venetic – the country’s most significant crackdown on serious and organised crime, which saw some fantastic results and allowed us to dismantle a number of large-scale cannabis farms, as well as seizing large quantities of other drugs.
“I would like to make it clear that these figures from the Home Office are testament to the excellent disruption work which has been carried out this year and not as a result of a sudden surge in the use of cannabis or any other drug.
“Under the banner of Operation Sentinel, our initiative to tackle serious and organised crime, we will actively pursue you if you involve yourself in the supply of any illegal substances in our region, not just cannabis. We will seek to bring you before the courts and make sure your drugs and all proceeds related to your so-called business are seized.”
Across England and Wales, the number of drug seizures increased for the second consecutive year, reversing the steady fall seen since 2011-12.
Police and border forces recorded 183,000 seizures, a 20% rise compared to 2018-19.
This was “mainly driven by an increase in the number of seizures of class B drugs”, such as herbal cannabis and cannabis resin, according to a Home Office report.
A spokesman for Durham Constabulary added: “We constantly work with our partners to reduce the harm caused by drugs in our local communities and target those who are involved in supply.
“Whenever members of the community come forward to speak to us about the supply of illegal drugs in their area, they can be assured that we will act on that information and take decisive action.”