A top West Yorkshire police officer believes the drug dealing that blights streets won’t stop until society works to stop our children and family members from taking drugs to start with.
Chief Constable John Robins of West Yorkshire Police was discussing a report into how prevention schemes were key to stopping crime when he made the comments.
He said that police have attempted to stop drug dealing for decades, but the problem will only be solved when the demand for drugs from local communities dries up.
The West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel were given a report into early help and prevention at a meeting on Friday.
The discussion soon turned to the drug trade in West Yorkshire, and Deputy Mayor Alison Lowe, who has powers over policing in the area, told members she recently witnessed a drug deal happen in front of her.
She said: “Street drug dealing is part of organised crime and gang activity. You have the kingpins that you never see, and then you have an army of often young people who they have exploited into selling drugs.”
Keeping these young people away from the trade was a more effective way of tackling the problem than dealing with them – she argued.
She said it was important for communities to report any drug dealing, adding: “Last Saturday I saw drug dealing happening in front of my car. I reported it, and luckily there was a camera very close by, so something will be done about it hopefully. It might not be immediate, as police will look at intelligence for that area and determine the next step.”
When asked about the issue, Chief Constable Robins said prevention was the only way to stop the drug trade. He told members: “The war on drugs has been going on for 45/50 years. Enforcement alone isn’t going to stop it from happening.
“People look to police for enforcement and commitment to tackling the issue, but the truth is if it wasn’t for members of our community buying drugs you wouldn’t be here speaking to me about this issue.
“It is our neighbours, our children, our families buying drugs, and they shouldn’t be doing that.
“It comes back to what this report says about prevention. You have to look at it from a health based approach – take people out of the drugs game or prevent them from getting into it to start with.
“You can only legislate so far – we need to take a different approach as a society.”