ORGANISED crime gangs responsible for peddling drugs in Barnsley’s communities are being targeted through a new policing taskforce which has already yielded seizures totalling hundreds of thousands of pounds, the Chronicle can reveal.

According to South Yorkshire Police, nine OCGs are known to be operating in Barnsley, all of which are believed to be involved in the supply of drugs.

The Chronicle can confirm the town has been selected by the Home Office to take part in a pilot scheme - Clear, Hold and Build - which puts action plans in place to combat OCGs in strongholds already known by the police.

An OCG-related meeting is now held each month with lead officers and staff from the town’s neighbourhood hubs based in the town centre, Cudworth, Penistone, Royston, Hoyland and Goldthorpe.

A report said: “The dissemination of these actions has led to some significant disruptions arrests and large seizures of cash and drugs.

“Some of the successes to date include a high number of arrests and seizures of assets totalling hundreds of thousands of pounds that will continue throughout all phases.

“Organised crime groups are made up of individuals who work together as an identifiable group of people to further their criminal activities with the intent and capability to commit serious crime on a continual basis.

“Within Barnsley, we seek to identify those involved in organised crime through intelligence and neighbourhood policing, map them as OCGs and then work with partner agencies to disrupt their activity and safeguard those at risk from such groups using a wide variety of powers and legislation.

“Barnsley currently has nine mapped organised crime groups who are all involved in the supply of controlled drugs.

“With partners we have engaged the community through days of action and events, securing £180,000 of investment to improve the infrastructure, including enhanced CCTV, lighting and environmental changes at locations that attract criminality and within open spaces.

“Future action will see local employers provide career training and opportunities and widespread engagement with youth groups to create recreational spaces and activities in an effort to divert them away from crime.

“Within the last quarter, a significant member of one of the organised crime groups has been sentenced for possession with intent to supply class a drugs and a further member of the group is pending sentencing again for possession with intent to supply.”

That ‘significant member’, drugs lynchpin Darren Grundy, from Birdwell, was given a three-year sentence having fallen foul of a National Crime Agency-led sting which resulted in a cash haul of £150,000 and £160,000 of cocaine being seized.

He pleaded guilty to possessing class A drugs, intent to supply and money laundering.

A spokesperson from the NCA added: “Organised crime groups rely on people to move their product and money around.

“Serious organised crime is complex but we have achieved an unparalleled victory against the kingpin criminals whose criminal activity and violence intimidates and exploits the most vulnerable.

“By dismantling these groups, we have saved countless lives and protected communities.

“Hopefully this sends a clear message to the public of our determination to rid communities of this sort of criminalisation.”

* If you have any information about suspected drug crime in your community, you can report it to police on 101. You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, via their website or by calling 0800 555 111.