Drug dealers prosecuted quicker thanks to new pilot scheme operating across Thames Valley area

Year long scheme has helped break the drugs supply chain and get criminals off our streets

Monday, 29th November 2021, 10:09 am
Updated Monday, 29th November 2021, 10:13 am

Drug dealers are being brought to justice a lot quicker than previously possible, thanks to a pilot scheme run by Thames Valley Police.

Since the beginning of the pilot on October 1, 2020, 25 cases have been submitted through Operation Yardbird, with six guilty pleas, and two sentences to date. The two sentences were for two years and eight months and three years and four months.

Previous procedures meant it took an extended time for drug identification to take place which meant of reoffending before charge.

The scheme has meant that identification of Class A drugs can be fast tracked

The year-long pilot scheme, in partnership with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS),and Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), has helped to expedite the process of possession with intent to supply (PWITS) cases through the criminal justice system by fast-tracking the identification of drugs.

With the evaluation by Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and funding from the Violence Reduction Unit and the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner, the force has been able to bring drugs coordinators and spectrometers in-house, meaning that identification of Class A drugs can be fast tracked.

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Powell, of the Criminal Justice team, said: “This pilot wouldn’t have been possible without the funding and work from our partners.

“In the short time that the pilot has been running we have already had positive outcomes from technology, having sentenced two offenders and more guilty pleas entered. With the speed in which we can now process PWITS cases helps to break the drugs supply chain, and get criminals off our streets.

“Thames Valley Police is committed to tackling drug crime and this is just one way that we can bring offenders to justice and remove drugs from our communities.”

Dr Michelle McManus, Head of Criminal Justice at Liverpool John Moores University, said: “We are delighted that Thames Valley Police have invited LJMU to evaluate their pilot scheme.

“Clearly there are a host of issues that need addressing to expedite the criminal justice process for possession with intent to supply drug cases and to improve the experience for all. The Thames Valley pilot is an interesting, innovative approach and we will carefully consider all the benefits and challenges before reaching any recommendations.”