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Force leads the way on tackling threat from illegal drugs

10 Sep 2019

Police forces from across the eastern region have renewed their focus on tackling illegal drugs as part of a Government-backed project led by Bedfordshire Police and our partners.

Drugs market profiles will be completed by a number of different forces alongside working more closely with partners such as public health and recovery programmes.

The progress was made at an inaugural conference in Bedfordshire on Thursday (5 August) and marks another step forward in a Home Office funded project coordinated by the county’s police force.

As part of this project our analyst Scott Owen worked with partners to produce a ground breaking drugs market profile, the first research project of its kind by any UK police force.

This work established the scale and dynamics of the local drugs market.

It found there are 34,000 people using illegal drugs in Bedfordshire, with up to £54 million spent on cocaine and around £59 million spent on cannabis every year.

Bedfordshire Police also used funding from the Home Office for a Heroin and Crack Action Area (HACAA) project, coordinating work with different forces from across the region to counter the increased use of these Class A drugs.

Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Lay, our head of serious and organised crime and chair of the Home Office’s drugs tactical working group, said: “This event marks another step forward in improving our response to illegal drugs.

“Drugs drive demand across a whole range of public services, from healthcare and social services through to ourselves as a police force.

“Gun crime and other serious violence is often fuelled by clashes between rival drugs gangs, while drugs can also be a motivator for things such as burglary.

“We are leading the way nationally with some pioneering work on how we respond to the issue of drugs and the exploitation of vulnerable people, and are determined to ensure it has a lasting impact and helps rid our communities of this corrosive commodity.”

The conference at Wyboston Lakes was attended by police and partner agencies from all the different counties in the eastern region, as well as from London and Northamptonshire.

The event heard presentations from Detective Superintendent Duncan Young, who was instrumental in securing the HACAA funding, as well as Charlotte Ball, public health principal for Bedford and Central Bedfordshire.


Sheldon Thomas, the director of charity Gangsline, also gave a presentation on what more agencies can do to stop young people being drawn into gangs in the first place.

Recommendations from the drugs market profile and other major pieces of research by the county’s local authorities are now being taken forward by different agencies.

The HACAA project was supported by Tony Saggers, a former head of drugs threat and intelligence at the National Crime Agency, and Piers Dingemans, a former head of the eastern region’s counter terrorism intelligence unit.

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