POLICE have ‘dismantled’ two significant organised crime groups peddling drugs in Barnsley - but work is ongoing to make sure others won’t take their place.
Police have specifically targeted two major gangs, leading to £1m in drugs being seized and around half that amount being recovered in cash through the Proceeds of Crime Act to be put back into communities.
Over the last year, Chief Superintendent James Abdy, Barnsley’s district commander, said dozens of arrests have been made as police recorded 42 ‘positive disruptions’ against criminal groups.
Officers have executed 36 property search warrants and identified 34 cannabis cultivations, arresting 57 recognised members of organised crime groups.
Chf Supt Abdy said at Tuesday’s meeting of the overview and scrutiny committee that local police have in the past week been working with the Home Office to explore tactics used in other areas of the country.
“Drug markets, and drug supply, is inherently linked into organised criminal activity,” he said.
“It is a significant threat to communities, and it has been for a long time and will continue to be so for some time yet.
“From an enforcement point of view, we treat organised crime seriously.
“It does exist in Barnsley - we don’t experience the high levels of extreme violence seen in other parts of the country, but violence is a factor.
“We’re doing significant work across the borough to try and identify and target organised criminals.
“We have a national process for understanding and mapping organised crime groups, to make sure the way it’s done in Barnsley is the same as it is in wider South Yorkshire and other parts of the UK.
“Over the last year, we’ve captured somewhere in the region of 42 positive disruptions against organised crime groups.
“Some of those can be low-level intervention, some of it can be a significant arrest charge and term of imprisonment.”
Drugs offences registered by police in the last year have carried on their year-on-year increases - put down to a combination of proactive work and targeted operations including last year’s Duxford, Voyager and Sceptre which all cracked down on drug and weapon crime.
Most recent figures show a rise of six per cent from 758 to 803 drugs crimes recorded.
“Over recent months, we’ve specifically targeted a number of organised crime groups and that’s led to two significant groups being significantly disrupted and their activities dismantled.
“Part of that challenge now is to identify, if anyone, who might try and take that void.
“We continue to target those criminals.
“It is a priority for the police, and we continue to take daily efforts to try and tackle that problem because it does bring with it significant harm to society.”
Superintendent Paul Ferguson added the force continues to work in partnership with the local authority and takes a ‘very grassroots view’ to remove residents identified as being involved in drug production or supply.
“If you’ve got a street with someone in the middle causing harm to those residents, you try to take that household out of the equation,” he said.
“When we get an arrest, Berneslai Homes will swoop in with us to remove that ill as well.
“It takes the harm away, but also I hope it sends a wider message out as well that crime doesn’t work.
“It’s a war, and I don’t think any enforcement agency would ever be daft enough to say they’ve won that war, but you keep fighting.”