CRIME rates for drugs offences across the borough spiked during the first months of lockdown which resulted in large hauls being recovered by police responsible for clamping down on supply, statistics have revealed.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that crime was down overall in the quarter from April to June when compared with the same period of last year.

There was a 31 per cent reduction in residential burglary and a 41 per cent drop in theft across South Yorkshire as a whole - figures expected by the police due to more people being indoors and many shops closing - but Barnsley’s drugs offences which are up by a quarter has been attributed to a targeted operation to dismantle rings.

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings said: “Spring 2020 was very different from spring 2019 and could not have been predicted.

“Drug-related crime statistics should not be viewed with concern as it reflects a great deal of activity on the part of South Yorkshire Police bringing drug offenders to justice.

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“There has been a considerable focus on drug offending and those who blight communities by bringing drugs onto the streets.

“As a result of these efforts criminals have been removed from the streets, their assets have been seized and we have been able to put some of that money directly back into the community via my grants scheme.”

Covert operations to stamp out ‘county lines’ crime resulted in several six-figure drugs hauls being seized during the crackdown, police revealed.

Led by the National Crime Agency, one scheme resulted in crack cocaine and cash worth £120,000 being seized from offenders involved in peddling drugs on main routes in Goldthorpe, identified as a hotspot due to its close links with Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield.

It has also notably seen the seizure of thousands of counterfeit tobacco across the borough and the breaking up of several six-figure cannabis factories in the town centre, Wombwell, Royston, Kingstone and Worsbrough Common during the spell.

Dr Billings added: “The drugs market is growing and seeking all the time to move into new areas. County lines is about the way drug-dealing gangs involve young people in moving drugs.

“The gangs need to be identified and disrupted and offenders put away for substantial periods of time. Their activity brings nothing but misery to vulnerable victims and communities alike.

“We know that drug-related crime has a marked and, at times, devastating impact on our local communities and I hope the public is reassured by the action taken to disrupt the activities of those who would seek to commit this crime.”