The leaders of criminal gangs will be specifically targeted as the Prime Minister announces new funding to address the “scourge of illegal drugs”.
Of an extra £148 million promised, £40 million will be used to help the police target county lines gangs and bring “drug kingpins” to justice.
In a review carried out for the Home Office and published last year, Professor Dame Carol Black said drugs crime was “a major driver” behind rising violence but the issue had “fallen down the priority list” for most police forces.
‘Cut off supply’
Boris Johnson said it was clear that the serious violence caused by drugs was devastating communities and costing lives.
He added: “That is why we must take action to cut off supply and cut the head off the snake by tackling the criminal gangs which exploit young people.”
According to the Home Office, existing funding “has already seen more than 3,400 people arrested, more than 550 lines closed, drugs with a street value of £9 million and £1.5 million cash seized, and more than 770 vulnerable people safeguarded”.
Drug lords also believe the police are winning the war. Live chats intercepted by the National Crime Agency heard criminals describe the organisation as “scary”, and one said officers were “getting too smart” and that it was time to leave the UK.
In December, the National Police Chiefs Council and Police Federation were criticised for backing an arrangement to turn a blind eye to cannabis possession.
Concerns have also been raised at the widespread use of Community Resolutions (CRs) for drug offences, which Ministry of Justice figures show accounted for 40 per cent of all CRs between March 2019 and March 2020.
Amanda Pinto QC, Chair of the Bar Council in 2020, has warned against their use. She said: “These methods must not be used as an alternative to bringing serious criminals to justice”.
The illicit drugs trade is worth approximately £9.4 billion and more than a third of people in prison are there due to crimes relating to drug use.