Enforcement, prevention and treatment are key to solving South West drug problems, says Commissioner

Laura White
Laura White

Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, has welcomed the Government’s strategy to dismantle county lines gangs and also focus on the treatment of addicts.

The strategy, revealed recently, pledges to dismantle 2,000 county lines gangs as part of a drugs policy overhaul.

Policing minister Kit Malthouse said the total funding would be £900 million over three years, including major investments in treatment. Other planned measures include using phones seized from drug dealers to message their clients to discourage drug use.

Commissioner Hernandez said: “The end user of a drug like cocaine might think they are having a bit of harmless fun, but what they don’t see is the pain, misery and violence suffered by those along the supply chain.

‘Drugs have a hugely negative impact on our society – whether it’s the violent gangs running lines to areas of Devon and Cornwall or the addicts who steal and rob to fund their habit. Heartless dealers also prey on vulnerable adults and children, bullying them into playing a part in their criminal enterprise. This has to stop and I welcome the Government’s 10-year strategy announced today to deal with this societal scourge.

‘Drugs are one of only four priorities in my newly published police and crime plan because our residents want more to be done to stop drug dealing in our communities and the antisocial behaviour and exploitation that comes as a result.

‘To tackle this problem we need to be tough on enforcement, work hard to prevent people using drugs in the first place, but also make sure those who do spiral into drug use have access to appropriate treatment that will help them ditch their harmful habit.

‘In the South West we are taking a regional approach to this matter and I am working hard with Police and Crime Commissioners from neighbouring areas to prevent the movement of drugs into this region.”

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