REVEALED: The £4.6 million of drugs seized by police in South Yorkshire this year

Police in South Yorkshire seized more than £4.6 million worth of drugs during the first nine months of the year.

Tuesday, 7th November 2017, 9:04 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 12:04 pm
Cannabis, cocaine and spice are among the most commonly seized drugs in South Yorkshire

Officers uncovered over £3.2m of cannabis and £550,000 of cocaine between January 1 and September 30 this year, a Freedom of Information request by The Star revealed.

Vast quantities of heroin, crack cocaine and mephedrone, commonly known as 'meow meow', were also recovered from producers, dealers and users across the region.

A cannabis farm uncovered by police in Nether Edge, Sheffield

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Detective Chief Inspector Paul Wilson, drugs lead for South Yorkshire Police, said officers are focusing their efforts on targeting class A drug dealers, while educating users about the dangers of using all banned drugs.

"We're not particularly focusing on students and young people who might want to buy £40 of drugs on a night out, though if they are caught they will be processed and could be cautioned and charged," he said.

"We're focusing on those who might want to bring in a kilo of class A drugs and make vast profits from other people's misfortune."

As well as carrying out raids based on tip-offs from members of the public, he said this involves covert operations to catch dealers in action.

A warning about the dangers of the drug spice, posted to a window in Sheffield

Officers have also recently conducted searches in city centres across the region using sniffer dogs, which Mr Wilson said were designed to reassure members of the public and show them police are listening to their concerns.

But much of their work these days consists of educating people about the dangers of drugs, which has seen them team up with Sheffield's universities, homeless projects and drug counselling services.

They have been working particularly closely with Sheffield's universities to flag up the dangers of ecstasy after 22-year-old Sheffield Hallam student Joana Burns tragically died having taken the drug during what was described as a 'final fling' to celebrate completing her degree.

"There's no such thing as a safe drug. You never know what's in that drug you're taking," said Mr Wilson.

Joana Burns, who died after taking ecstasy on a night out

"You don't know if heroin has been mixed with other ingredients, crack cocaine is generally made in people's bedroom, and ecstasy and spice tend to have a large number of ingredients so you never know what you're buying."

Spice, a synthetic cannabis substitute dubbed the 'zombie' drug for its ability to leave users in a trance-like state, has hit the headlines recently in Sheffield and across the UK.

South Yorkshire Police seized nearly 10,400 packets or other quantities of this drug in the nine months to the end of September.

Officers are working with the Cathedral Archer Project homeless centre in Sheffield, where ambulances have recently been called after users were left incapacitated by particularly strong batches, to press home the dangers.

A cannabis farm uncovered by police in Nether Edge, Sheffield

The huge value of cannabis seized by police in South Yorkshire is largely down to raids on drugs farms where vast quantities of plants - each with a potentially high street value - are being grown.

Cocaine is a clear second on the list of most-seized drugs by value, with Mr Wilson saying many young people are now taking it on a night out as a cheaper alternative to alcohol.

Third on the list, perhaps surprisingly, is mephedrone, or 'meow meow', £316,000 of which was recovered in the first three quarters of 2017. Mr Wilson said this is seen in some circles as a cheaper alternative to cocaine.

Heroin, £263,000 of which was seized, crack cocaine (£214,000) and ecstasy (£61,000) were the other drugs where the amount uncovered exceeded £50,000.

* Anyone with information about drug supply where they live is asked to call police on 101. Always dial 999 in an emergency.


A warning about the dangers of the drug spice, posted to a window in Sheffield

Drug // Value seized // Amount seized (number of individual wraps, packets etc)

Cannabis: £3,201,000 //113,317

Cocaine: £552,000 // 14,439

Mephedrone: £316,000 // 21,062

Heroin: £263,000 // 5,253

Crack cocaine: £214,000 // 2,857

Ecstasy: £61,000 // 3,527

Spice (Synthetic cannabinoids): £N/A // 10,384

* amount seized between January 1 and September 30 this year

Joana Burns, who died after taking ecstasy on a night out