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Published: 3rd June 2009 16:50

 Young people are being urged to play a vital role in helping hammer home the message that communities across Trent Valley are deadly serious when it comes to tackling drugs and the people who deal in them.

College students and schools pupils are being encouraged to understand the dangers of getting hooked on drugs, such as cannabis and heroin, by talking to police and people working to help addicts.

By discussing the issues, police and crime busting partners hope young people will help in the fight by warning and advising other youngsters.

The move is part of ‘National Tackling Drugs Week' which kicks off on Monday (8 June) and links in with Staffordshire Police's own county wide crack down on drug dealers - Operation Nemesis.

The campaign is being run across Trent Valley police division - which covers Burton, Tamworth, Lichfield, Burntwood and Uttoxeter.

Trent Valley police education liaison officer, PC Ian Baker, and fellow officers, will be talking to young people and impressing on them how drugs can ruin lives, break up friendships and relationships and leave them isolated and at risk.

"Because of their lifestyles, young people are more likely to come into contact with people who want to sell them drugs," explained PC Baker.

"Drugs can be seen as ‘cool' but the reality is very frightening and often leads to significant personal, financial and family problems."

He said it was important young people and parents understood the dangers of illegal drugs and what signs to look out for.

Throughout National Tackling Drugs Week (8-12 June) police and crime fighting partners are staging a series of events aimed at raising awareness of drugs and drug dealers.

In Burton town centre, police and drug professionals are staging special exhibitions on Thursday 11 June and Saturday 13 June, offering support and advice about the tell tale signs of drug use.

Throughout the week, police, the youth service, and experts from Burton Addiction Clinic will be speaking to young people at de Ferres, Abbot Beyne, Pagett and Paulett high schools as well as Burton College.

In Tamworth, drugs awareness raising events are being staged in the town's shopping centres on Tuesday, 9 June and Thursday 11 June.

Tamworth's team of schools based "Turnaround Team' of officers will also be focusing on drugs issues as they meet and talk with groups of high school students.

In Lichfield, police are visiting a number of primary schools to help youngsters understand and talk about drugs.
In Uttoxeter, police and partners will be in the town's Market Square on Saturday, 6 June, to meet residents and shoppers and answer their questions. Officers are also visiting local schools.

On Friday, 12 June, a drugs awareness event is being staged at Uttoxeter's Thomas Alleynes High School.
In Burntwood, including Chasetown, Chase Terrace, Armitage and Handsace, police officers will be encouraging people to "Rat on a Rat" and pass on information about drug dealers to police or Crimestoppers.

Chief Inspector Ricky Fields said: "This year has already seen a number of high profile arrests and convictions of drugs dealers.

"We have also seen the discovery of so-called cannabis factories, and I hope that people linked to drugs now have the message, loud and clear, that our communities will not tolerate drugs and drug dealing."

He said police and crime busting community partners were working extremely effectively to tackle drugs issues and drug related crime across the division.

"We know by speaking to people who live and work in our communities, they support our actions to tackle drug dealing and seize cash and assets from dealers."

He said the number of class A (heroin, cocaine) drug dealers being brought to justice was increasing with more than 80-per cent of offenders being given immediate custodial sentences.

Chief Inspector Fields praised the work of local drug rehabilitation professionals and volunteers.

"The service provided by the NHS, charitable and volunteer groups is invaluable and plays a vital role in helping people with complex needs such as mental health problems," he added.

Over the last few years, Staffordshire Police has used new legislation to order crooks - including drug dealers - to pay back millions of pounds of ill-gotten gains.

Meanwhile, people are being urged to keep up the flow of information about dealers in their area by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 at any time.

Calls to Crimestoppers are free from land lines and callers do not have to leave their name or any personal details. Callers could be in line for a Crimestoppers reward if their information leads to a conviction.

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