Brian Sims

600-plus organised crime groups disrupted by ADDER projects

UPWARDS OF 600 organised crime groups have been disrupted and more than 13,000 people supported in drug treatment interventions delivered by outreach workers just one year on from the launch of the Project ADDER (Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement and Recovery) programme, which was set up to cut drug-related crime and harm in England and Wales.

The Home Office revealed some early successes of the trailblazing project as Kit Malthouse, the Minister for Crime, Policing and Probation, gathered Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) representing ADDER areas from across England and Wales at a meeting to underline the importance of cracking down on drug misuse and ensuring that this particular crime threat receives the resource and focus it needs at the local level.

Malthouse highlighted the successes of the 13 Project ADDER sites one year after the first projects launched. He urged PCCs to continue to work with local authorities and support the police service in cracking down on drugs gangs, rolling up county lines and helping those addicted to drugs with treatment and recovery services.

The Home Office has revealed that, between January and December 2021, across all sites, Project ADDER has boosted activity and contributed to:

*over 600 organised crime group disruptions

*over £3.5 million in cash seized

*almost 10,500 arrests (including for drug trafficking, acquisitive crime and criminal damage/arson, etc)

*over 4,300 Out of Court Disposals started by police

*over 13,400 drug treatment interventions carried out by outreach workers

So far, £59 million of investment has been committed to Project ADDER until 2023, while the Government has pledged to extend the funding of the programme to 2025 as part of its flagship Drugs Strategy. The latter will see £300 million invested in pursuing and closing down the ruthless gangs who exploit and threaten the most vulnerable members of society for financial gain through the illegal drugs trade and the sum of £780 million being invested in treatment and recovery.

Degrading society, underpinning criminality

Kit Malthouse said: “Drugs degrade society. They drive crime and destroy families. Their illegal use claims more lives each year than all stabbings and road traffic accidents combined.”

He continued: “This Government is committed to eradicating this scourge and I’m very pleased to see that our approach is working, with over 10,000 arrests and 13,000 people encouraged into treatment in the last 12 months through Project ADDER.”

In conclusion, Malthouse noted: “Our ten-year Drugs Strategy will tackle both the supply and demand for narcotics and see the Government commit to the largest-ever single increase in investment in treatment and recovery.”

All Project ADDER sites are now live, spanning across 13 local authorities in England and Wales. These are Blackpool, Hastings, Middlesbrough, Norwich, Swansea Bay, Bristol, Newcastle, Wakefield, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Liverpool City, Knowsley and the Wirral.

The Project ADDER approach combines co-ordinated and targeted law enforcement with expanded diversionary programmes, such as Out of Court Disposal Orders, and enhanced treatment and recovery services, among them housing and employment support.

Driving down crime

The Drugs Strategy builds on the Government’s progress in driving down crime and delivering safer streets for all.

Between June 2019 and June 2021, there was a 14% fall in overall crime (excluding fraud and computer misuse). In the year to last June, there were continuing falls in neighbourhood crime – including robbery and burglary – as well as falls in knife crime (excluding possession) and firearms offences, duly reflecting the impact of lockdown restrictions.

In particular, neighbourhood crime decreased by 31%, homicides were down 7% and knife crime dropped by 10%.

Overall, crime has been falling in recent years. According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, between 2009-10 and 2019-20, overall crime fell by 41%, with violence falling by 33% and theft by 34%.

Some 11,053 additional police officers have been hired across England and Wales, meaning that the Government is 55% of the way towards its target of 20,000 extra officers come March 2023.

Police forces are now more diverse than ever. More female officers are being recruited, while the police service now employs the highest number of black, Asian and ethnic minority officers since records began.

Weapons targeting

Every knife seized is a life saved, which is why the Government has afforded the police service more Stop and Search powers. It’s working. Last year, almost 16,000 dangerous weapons were seized.

In parallel, the Offensive Weapons Act bans a wide range of knives, weapons, and firearms, while the surrender scheme has seen almost 15,000 knives and offensive weapons removed from the streets.

The Government has funded 159 local areas across England and Wales to deliver crime prevention measures through the Safer Streets Fund. This has resulted in increased CCTV, street lighting and enhanced home security.

Since 2019, the Government has invested £242 million in tackling serious violence and homicide ‘hotspots’. This includes £105.5 million of funding for dedicated Violence Reduction Units, which have to date reached 300,000 at-risk young people.

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