TWO young police officers have been praised for their efforts in smashing a drug dealing operation in Dalton.
A judge heard how Pcs James Bellhouse and Lisa Robertshaw almost single-handedly smashed the drug dealing gang operating on the sprawling council estate.
Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday how an undercover investigation codenamed Operation Ebonite was set up on the Dalton estate in the summer of 2005.
Five men were later arrested and charged with drugs offences thanks to the evidence gathered and observations made by PCs Bellhouse, 27, and Robertshaw, 28.
After locking up three teenagers for their part in the dealing, Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC commended the two officers, adding: "Their activities have impressed me."
David Bartholomew, 18, of Crossfields, Dalton, and Jamie Simpson, 19, of Walton Croft, Marsh, were both sent to a young offenders' institution for three and a half years after pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine.
The pair were in court almost a year earlier after similar drug crimes were uncovered.
Lionel Patrice, 19, of Spire Court, Marsh, was sent to a young offenders' institution for two and a half years after admitting charges of supplying heroin and crack cocaine.
Sentencing them, Judge Durham Hall said police had responded to complaints from residents of the estate, who were "frankly and simply fed up" with the scale of drug-dealing being blatantly and openly carried out by young men in their area.
"I have to send a very clear message to those like you who seem to have no awareness of the danger caused.
"It is bringing communities to their knees.
"What you did was quite wrong and very serious."
Gerald Hendron, prosecuting, said the police operation had concentrated on an area surrounding an alleyway off Crossfields, after nearby residents reported a steady stream of visitors looking for drugs.
On six days, spread over a two-week period, covert surveillance revealed Bartholomew and Simpson being involved on several occasions and Patrice once.
"The defendants were acting in concert," said Mr Hendron.
Robin Mairs, for Simpson, said his client had drifted into bad company after the death of his mother Theresa in 2004.
She had been stabbed to death in Honley.
Bartholomew, who was 16 at the time of the offences, had been easily influenced by others, the court was told.
Patrice was described by his counsel, Jason Macadam, as being the last link in the supply chain.