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North Yorkshire Lockdown Drug Offences Surge ‘Not A Surprise’

North Yorkshire Lockdown Drug Offences Surge ‘Not A Surprise’

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Stuart Minting at 11:26am 18th June 2020.

A police commissioner has said an apparent sharp rise in drug offences during lockdown in a county said to be the country’s safest place is “not a surprise”.

Julia Mulligan, North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, was reacting after figures from the force suggested drugs offences had risen by 99 to 367 – an increase of 37 per cent from the two months before lockdown to the two months after lockdown.

The figures also showed that the March 23 and May 25 period saw ten per cent more drugs offences than over the same dates last year.

Across England and Wales police forces reported an average increase in drugs offences of 27 per cent during lockdown. Some forces also reported that drug dealers had started providing home deliveries as their trade took a hit during lockdown.

In the initial stage of lockdown, the National Crime Agency said dealers were disguising themselves as key workers by wearing hi-vis clothing and operating from supermarket car parks. Meanwhile, the latest total national figures for all crime reported by the National Police Chiefs’ Council showed a 25 per cent drop in England and Wales in the four-week period to May 10.

Mrs Mulligan said she believed the figures reflected that lockdown had given the police an opportunity to crackdown on criminals on the roads.

She said:

“Any rise in drugs offences would be worrying, but not a surprise. I have been clear how concerned I am about the availability of illegal substances, and particularly their use by young people across North Yorkshire.

I know that many people would not consider this county to have a drugs problem – but it does, and we need to do more to address it collectively, not just in the policing family.

Before we can do that, we need to know the scale of the problem. This is why I have been calling for more to be done to establish that with government, police and partners across North Yorkshire. Only by understanding the challenges can we find the solutions and I will continue to work to try and bring people together to achieve that.”

Earlier this month, Mrs Mulligan said the coronavirus crisis had brought children and drug-taking into an even starker focus, following the death of a 14-year-old girl in Scarborough.

She said:

“We have vulnerable children who have not been in school, who have been unsupported and who have been under the radar – hidden from view in homes and communities which are not always safe.”

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