DRIVING OUT DRUGS – WE’RE GETTING THERE! Operation Trap, a project to drive out drugs in Aston, has been evaluated as successful – but there are still challenges to overcome. To continue with its success, Aston Pride’s Community Safetey Theme developed Operation Trap 2, which began in September 2005 and will conclude in 2008. West Midlands Police will this time pay for the salary of the Drugs Enforcement Officer, which Aston Pride funded for Operation Trap.
The community safety initiative by Aston Pride has resulted in less fear of crime among residents and broad support for ways of anonymously reporting information, which then gets acted upon. The community believes Operation Trap has made a difference and welcomes the increased visibility of police in the area. A clean up has removed evidence of drug use from the environment and physical improvements, such as alley gating, has reduced those areas vulnerable to drug use and dealing.
The evaluation found that since Operation Trap, the number of arrests for drug offences during February 2004 had gone up, resulting in seizures and convictions. In 2004/05, burglaries and thefts went down by 25 per cent, robberies by 20 per cent and car crime by 15 per cent, although some of that may be the result of other police activity, not just Operation Trap.
The report praised Operation Trap for successfully working with local agencies, in particular the police and the local community in drawing up community safety priorities. The scheme has been recognized for its best practice, and has been awarded a prestigious regional prize for it’s community engagement work.
The community safety team is now well established Aston and has earned credibility with local people. However, some young people – and their parents – feel that stop and search has impacted unfairly on them. In addition, it is not clear how effective Operation Trap has been at reducing the demand for drugs. However, a few users have stopped buying in the area and some have said that numerous drug and crack houses have been reduced. The report recommended more work with young people to dispel myths around stop and search , and more support and activities to prevent them entering the drug scene. It also called for more joint working between police and drug treatment agencies to reduce the supply and use of drugs.
OPERATION TRAP SET OUT TO:
Reduce the harm and impact of drugs in the community by reducing the availability of drugs by targeting dealers and suppliers. Also reducing the demand for drugs by discouraging users from buying in the area.
Create safer public places removing visible signs of drug activity, dealers, users, crack houses.
Reduce fear of crime by targeting drugs use and dealing. Increasing arrests that will enable more referrals to treatment services