A Kirklees drugs squad in was involved in a major cannabis drugs bust last week. Crime reporter ANDREW HIRST discovers how the team gets its information
EVERY piece of information given to specialist drugs police counts.
The Examiner can reveal today that anonymous information given to Crimestoppers about drugs can be passed to Kirklees District Drugs Team within minutes.
And drugs raids can be carried out within hours.
The team looks closely at the tip-offs and puts it against other intelligence information it already has about the suspect.
Sometimes it can be the final piece in the jigsaw that leads to a raid and arrest.
Det Sgt Anil Shukla from the team said: "Although it may seem insignificant to the caller - and they may have even thought it hardly worth picking up the phone - it might be just the information we need.
"Often if people do phone in, they may not see police action for a while.
"That does not mean we are not investigating the suspects or have them under surveillance, but we need to build up evidence before moving in to make arrests.
"Clearly if the evidence is there and we have to move fast, we will do."
The team did just that early last week when they raided flats at St Peter's Street in Huddersfield town centre and discovered a major cannabis-growing factory inside.
In all, they found more than 700 plants with an estimated street value of £250,000. Three men have been remanded in custody, accused of conspiracy to produce cannabis.
Cannabis plants harvest every three months and with each crop worth around £300 it quickly mounts up.
Now landlords have been urged to be sure who is renting their properties and what they are doing in there.
If they are being used for large cannabis-growing factories, the building is very often badly damaged with holes bashed in walls to install ventilation systems and the electrics tampered with so badly they will need totally rewiring.
Det Sgt Seth Robinson from Kirklees District Drugs Team said the team has sent out information to members of Kirklees Landlords Association.
He added: "It is in their interests to know what is going on in their properties and let us know if they have any suspicions."
The Metropolitan Police in London warned last year that there is a big problem with organised gangs from China and Vietnam setting up cannabis-growing factories nationwide.
Although Kirklees District Drugs Team - which was set up in June 2003 - gets involved in major cannabis operations, its main brief is to catch suppliers of class A drugs, including heroin, crack cocaine and ecstasy.
It also works closely with West Yorkshire Police's Confiscation Unit to seize cash, cars and the other trappings of wealth that comes with drug dealing.
Det Sgt Shukla said: "Sometimes when we arrest dealers this flash lifestyle is in your face, with the jewellery, watches, cars and cash.
"The law has changed in recent years and the people who are arrested now have to prove how they came by this wealth."
Information phoned anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 is sent to Kirklees CID intelligence unit based at Huddersfield police station - often within minutes of it being received.
It has a phenomenal success rate in Kirklees, with calls to Crimestoppers leading directly to more than 100 arrests last year. The arrests figure is fast approaching 20 so far this year.
Many more calls provided vital intelligence information.
But information about alleged drug dealing is also emailed direct from Crimestoppers to Kirklees District Drugs Team.
Crimestoppers offer anonymity and free calls which cannot be traced and so do not show up on phone bills.
Rewards can be paid using a code system so even the pay-outs remain anonymous.
If the drug-dealing is going on from a house, police need to find out who is living there, the times of the day when the dealing is going on, registration numbers and description of cars arriving and leaving and even nicknames of suspects.
Det Sgt Shukla said: "The more information we can get the better, but we would urge people never to put themselves at risk."
Kirklees District Drugs Team also has its own intelligence officer who looks closely at all the tip-offs coming in alongside the intelligence information the team already has.
Det Sgt Shukla said:
"When we do raids we can call for back-up and support from Neighbourhood Policing Teams, detectives in Kirklees and also the operational support unit which can give us specialist method-of-entry to get in anywhere fast."
* Anyone with information about drug dealing should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 any time of the day or night.