Police home in on drug crimes

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Drug dealing has topped the poll of Jersey residents’ concerns in every survey on crime and disorder over the last five years, and the police identify it as the reason for a significant amount of crime in Jersey.

In their recently published plan for next year, the police recognise the success of its strategy of attacking the local networks that import and distribute illegal drugs in the Island.

But it intends to do more next year, including targeting street dealers and doing more to put drug users in touch with organisations who can help them kick their habit.

But the police also want more powers to seize the assets of drug dealers.

‘The suppliers will not let up on a local drugs market worth tens of millions of pounds unless Jersey’s enforcement agencies are empowered to target suspect drug dealers using civil asset recovery powers,’ said Chief Officer Graham Power.

‘At the moment we are in a weak position because while we can seize assets if they are directly linked to a conviction, we cannot touch any unrelated assets even if we suspect they are the result of criminal activity.

‘With new powers, which are currently at the drafting stage, the onus will be on the criminal to explain where the money came from.

This will be a big help to us in tackling drug-dealing and organised crime.’ Mr Power is also calling for more legislation to allow the Joint Financial Crimes Unit to seize the assets of Jersey-based companies and individuals, even if people linked to them are being prosecuted elsewhere.

Other initiatives planned for next year include: developing a website where people can report a crime, increasing the size of the Licensing Unit to carry out more checks in pubs and clubs, deploying more officers to the Roads Policing Unit and developing the way regular offenders are interviewed to help clear up other crimes.

Mr Power added: ‘The Policing Plan sets out the resources available to the force next year and what we intend to do with them, as well as how performance will be measured.

It constitutes a joint political and operational commitment for the operation of the force in 2007 and has been signed off by the Home Affairs Minister.’ The plan also includes recommendations made in a recent HMI inspection of the force, which identified a number of areas in need of improvement.

The police budget next year is £21m.

Its authorised headcount will remain at the current level: 245 officers, who are supported by 77 civil servants and 12 manual workers.

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