UK Police Praise Public For 'Rat' Tip-Offs
The message on the posters is simple and to the point: "Rat on a Rat", it tells us. And, three months into the campaign, it seems the public are taking note - and informing on drug dealers in their hundreds.
The scheme has been an unqualified success, encouraging the public to fight back against drug dealers by ringing Crimestoppers anonymously.
Since September 16, Notts Police have made 815 arrests because of Rat on a Rat, after receiving 800 calls.
Usually, the force would receive about three calls a week from the public informing on dealers.
Of those arrested:
230 were for supplying drugs
445 for possessing drugs
140 for other drug-related offences.
Police have also made 902 drugs seizures in that time.
It has also been announced that police will be upping their campaign - by posting new warning leaflets through the doors of people living near suspected dealers.
Deputy Chief Constable Howard Roberts, who has masterminded Rat on a Rat, said the Notts public's response had been phenomenal.
"We have seized some very significant quantities of drugs in the last three months, but a lot of the cases are still going through the courts process," he said.
"I would like to say a big thank you to the public for the part they have played so far.
"It shows that the public is aware of the campaign, and that is something we have aimed for all along."
And Mr Roberts said he had been surprised by how many people had been willing to come forward with information and have then left their own personal details.
Many of the arrests and seizures have been for the use and supply of class A drugs - with the force targeting crack cocaine and heroin because of the financial and emotional impact they have on the county's residents.
"I still believe, as I have said all along, that drugs are the biggest single threat to this county," he said.
Despite the initial success of the scheme, Mr Roberts is determined to continue the momentum generated so far - and warned dealers they could face an unhappy Christmas and new year behind bars.
"This is a project that will last years - not weeks or months," he said.
"Now we will be asking the Police Authority to continue funding this as one of our priority areas through the type of special grants we have received during this financial year."
Mr Roberts is keen to spread the word about Rat on a Rat to dealers and those people living near dealers.
"We are now doing special versions of the Rat on a Rat poster, which we are putting through the letterboxes of people living near properties where we have carried out successful drugs raids.
"The posters tell them what we are doing, and why. There is also information on the back, telling them information about where people who abuse drugs can get help and advice."
Last week, Notts Police won Government praise for its continued improvements throughout 2003.
And Chief Constable Steve Green said one of the most satisfying parts of the force's progress was the crackdown on drug dealers and users - and particularly the Rat on a Rat campaign.
"I have been delighted with the progress we have made on the drugs strategy. Rat on a Rat has been a good example of this," he told the Post.
"We said from the start that the campaign would not just be run in the short term. It will be an ongoing project, because drugs are such a huge problem now.
"The message really is that we are not going away."
When Rat on a Rat was launched in September, reformed drug addict Calvin Madin told the Post something needed to be done to tackle the spiralling problem.
And today, he said he was pleased with the scheme's progress so far.
"It's great for the community that the police are picking up so many people and taking them off the streets" said Mr Madin, 37, who now lives in Skegby.
"But then we need to have a look at what to do with them after that. We need to make sure that there is room in the prisons for the dealers - and that those ordered on to Drug Treatment and Testing Orders do attend them and are properly monitored."
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