DRUGS worth a staggering £57 million have been seized from the streets of South Yorkshire in a series of police operations aimed at smashing the supply network feeding the county’s addicts.
Figures obtained by The Star using the Freedom of Information Act show cannabis plants worth over £39m have been recovered, along with a stash of heroin worth £4.8m, cocaine worth £4.1m, crack cocaine worth £2.1m and a haul of amphetamine worth another £2.1m.
The figures, which highlight the scale of the county’s drug problem, are said to reflect the availability of drugs across the county - with cannabis said to be the easiest substance to buy, followed by heroin.
The statistics are based on all seizures of amphetamine, cannabis plants, herbal cannabis, cannabis resin, cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and LSD made in Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster between 2006 and the start of this month.
Since January this year police have already found cannabis plants worth £2.5m, heroin worth £242,187, cocaine worth £96,891 and amphetamine worth £21,288.
The figures show the most successful year for drug seizures was 2007, when substances with a value of £14.7m were found by police.
In 2009 drugs worth £13m were discovered, and in 2010 officers located £10.3 million worth of drugs.
Detective Superintendent Richard Fewkes, responsible for serious organised crime and South Yorkshire Police’s drugs strategy, said: “These figures reflect the availability and use of drugs on the streets of South Yorkshire.”
He said operations to combat the problem were about “dismantling organised criminal networks that deal in drugs as a commodity to profiteer from”.
“As well as targeting the top end of the supply chain we have carried out many policing operations around street level dealing, one of which led to the sentencing of 27 dealers in Sheffield last week,” he said.
“These type of operations will continue - and indeed there are some ongoing now that will deliver similar results over the next year and years to come, because that’s how long some of these can take.
“They require a significant amount of time and investment of resources but they have a positive impact on communities in terms of the availability of drugs and the associated reduction in acquisitive crime and anti-social behaviour.”
Det Supt Fewkes said “drugs are a concern to most communities” but stressed police enforcement is only one part of the jigsaw in tackling the problem.
Education is another and a spokesman for Addaction, a Sheffield-based charity which helps drug and alcohol users turn their lives around, said: “We welcome these seizures and the hard work of the local police.
“Reducing the supply of drugs is an important part of winning the war against drugs, but it is only part.
“Tackling this problem also means dealing with addiction and this requires the treatment of those addicted to drugs and the support of the families and communities whose lives have been wrecked by their consequences.
“Anybody involved with the treatment of addicts knows there is no quick or cheap fix in getting people drug free - just hard work, patience and understanding.”