Police have praised the people of Preston for helping them defeat drug gangs – after another nine dealers were sentenced.
Recent months have seen at least 36 dealers taken off the streets as officers responded to community intelligence amid fears that gang activity was spiralling out of control.
Drug and gang activity has been going on for a while but it has been difficult to secure prosecutions because people are scared to come forward for fear of reprisal.Det Insp Nick Hill
In December, 18 Preston drug dealers were jailed for a total of 60 years after an undercover officer posed as a drug dealer to snare street dealers supplying heroin and crack to addicts in the city.
Last month, 11 members of the Avenham drug dealing gang were put behind bars for a total of 82 years after peddling drugs in Avenham Park.
Now seven more drug dealers have been locked up for 21 years, and another two given non-custodial sentences. Read the full story here
But officers say there is still work to be done. Det Insp Nick Hill, says: “Drug and gang activity has been going on for a while but it has been difficult to secure prosecutions because people are scared to come forward for fear of reprisal.
“We have had to work really hard to gain the trust of the community to get the information we need to put people behind bars.
“We have followed up on every lead and every offence from the most minor to the most serious.
“We have had a number of gang injunctions made through the civil courts which place restrictions on who people can associate with, where they can go and how many mobile phones they can have.
“But as long as there is a drugs market there is always a customer. We encourage people to come forwards – we all want to get drug dealers off the streets.
“These are organised gangs who use violence and target vulnerable people to do their work.
“They can be vulnerable adults or young males who see the perceived glory and want a piece of it. They get in a bit of debt, do a bit of street dealing and they are hooked into that cycle.
“We encourage people to come forwards either through Crimestoppers, anonymously, or through the police.
“Look out for the smell of cannabis, or suspicious activity, lots of coming and going late at night, people living beyond their means.
“It is like a jigsaw – and that one piece of information, however small, might be the final thing we need to secure a conviction.”
If you have information or suspicion about dealing, call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. You do not have to leave your name and won’t have to go to court.