"Lancashire Police need to up their game", demands Preston MP after raising city's drug-crime problem with Parliament
Lancashire Police are not doing enough to tackle drug-related crime in Preston and "need to up their game", says the city's MP.
Sir Mark Hendrick, MP for Preston, criticised the county's police force during a speech in the House of Commons on Friday, July 28.
Speaking before the House of Commons, Sir Mark raised the issue of drug and gang-related crime in the city, and his concerns for Deepdale in particular.
In a stinging criticism of Lancashire Police, the Labour MP told Parliament that the force is losing the war against drugs in the city.
"An issue that is greatly affecting people in Preston is drug crime", Sir Mark told his peers in Parliament.
"It's absolutely rife in a deprived ward in my city", he continued.
"I recently met with local councillors from the Deepdale ward who witness horrific gang-related violence on the streets in broad daylight.
"Young people and children are being used to distribute illicit drugs on the street, and shockingly, this activity takes place in broad daylight within yards of school playgrounds.
"It's rife up and down the country and many of us here [Houses of Parliament] know about County Lines because we are experiencing these problems first hand."
Sir Mark told Parliament that councillors in Deepdale had even witnessed drug dealing when canvassing during broad daylight.
Speaking to the Post about his concerns, Sir Mark said that he stands by his speech in Parliament and says Lancashire Police "need to up their game".
"This isn't just a call to action. It is a demand. A demand that Lancashire Police get to grips with this problem before it's too late.
"I know a lot of places have crime problems, but the feedback I'm getting from councillors in Deepdale is extremely concerning", he said.
"The problem is drugs. With drugs comes burglary, gang-related crime, knife crime and anti-social behaviour.
"What concerns me greatly is the age of these offenders. Many of those involved in drugs and associated crime are young people.
"Children as young as 15 are involved in drug dealing and gang violence. It doesn't bode well for our future."
Sir Mark said he has repeatedly raised concerns, on behalf of councillors and constituents, with Lancashire's police chiefs.
But Sir Mark said his concerns have been met with a lacklustre response from police.
"Police have not taken these concerns seriously. I'm not convinced that they are doing everything within their power to stop it."
His comments have irked Lancashire Police chiefs, who have hit back, defending their approach to drug crime.
Responding to Sir Mark's criticism, Lancashire Police said fighting drug crime remains a "top priority".
"Tackling organised crime groups and the supply of controlled drugs in Preston is one of our top priorities", said Ch Insp Steve Sansbury said:
"We are well aware that organised crime, including the production and supply of drugs, the violence which controls this market and how it impacts on vulnerable people, blights people and affects the day to day lives of our law-abiding communities.
"But we need the assistance of those communities in tackling this problem."
The chief inspector then reassured the public that an increasing number of resources are being employed to fight the city's war on drugs.
In recent months, stop and search powers and dispersal orders have been used to target drug-related crime in Deepdale and New Hall Lane areas of the city.
"I would like to reassure the public we do keep up the pressure on those involved in serious and organised crime in Preston", continued Chief Inspector Sansbury.
"Through the use of gang injunctions, Section 60 stop and search powers and the use of specialist resources, such as armed response, mounted branch and the dog unit.
"We target these offenders consistently, which even in the past few weeks has resulted in arrests of organised crime group members for breaches of gang injunctions.
"Through the use of stop and search we have arrested a number of people carrying drugs and weapons."
Sir Mark's comments in Westminster also provoked a response from Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Clive Grunshaw.
In defence of the force, the crime chief said his officers are working "harder than ever" to protect Preston's under-threat communities.
He said: "Stopping criminal gangs who use young and vulnerable people is a problem we continue to see, with officers working harder than ever before to stop them blighting our communities.
"Investigation work to tackle this type of criminality is not always visible but it is taking place and no stone is left unturned in stopping serious and organised crime, a key priority in my Police and Crime Plan.
"Intelligence from the public is often absolutely crucial in removing criminals from our street and protecting the most vulnerable, with recent stop and search operations highlighting the work being done to keep people safe."
Lancashire Police is urging anyone who suspects drugs dealing in their area to call 101.
Alternatively, independent charity Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org.”