In a remarkable achievement, a national initiative known as Project ADDER (Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement and Recovery) has successfully removed nearly £13 million worth of drugs from the streets of the Wakefield district over the span of just two years. The project, which recently celebrated its two-year anniversary, aims to combat drug addiction and dismantle criminal gangs involved in drug supply.

Under Project ADDER, local police forces collaborate with partners at the community level to disrupt drug trafficking while diverting vulnerable individuals towards treatment and assisting them in recovering from their addiction.

To spearhead these efforts, the Wakefield Neighbourhood Impact Team, responsible for the entire district, was established in October 2021. Since then, the team has made significant strides in their fight against drug-related crime. Here are some of their noteworthy accomplishments:

  • Executed 163 search warrants and conducted 228 stop searches.
  • Seized drugs worth a staggering £12.8 million, along with 36 vehicles and 109 weapons.
  • Apprehended 186 suspects, resulting in 29 convictions with a total of 40 years of imprisonment. Additional investigations are still ongoing.
  • Issued 110 community resolutions for drug possession offences. Through the Drugs Divert Community Resolution Scheme, law enforcement officers can issue community resolutions for possession offences, promoting a health-oriented approach to address drug users.

Cllr Maureen Cummings, the Cabinet Member for Communities, Poverty and Health at Wakefield Council, expressed her satisfaction with the success of Project ADDER in the Wakefield district. She highlighted the positive impact it has had on local communities, making them feel safer while providing essential support to residents in their journey towards a crime-free and addiction-free life.

The story of Joe* is a testament to the program’s effectiveness. Previously entangled in a cycle of drug dependency and criminal activity, Joe was released from prison in September 2021 and joined the Turning Point Inspiring Recovery program, funded through Project ADDER. Through regular drug treatment sessions with a key worker, Joe was introduced to Buvidal, a long-acting medicine for opioid dependence. This revolutionary treatment allowed Joe to regain control of his life, eliminating the need for daily pharmacy visits and empowering him to take charge of his own recovery.

Having successfully undergone Buvidal treatment for over six months, Joe attests that he feels better than he has in the past two decades. He describes the experience as having his life restored, enabling him to think clearly and return to a sense of normalcy. Joe now focuses on rebuilding relationships with his family and friends, maintaining regular contact with his adult children, and assuming the role of a reliable father figure once again.

Superintendent Phil Jackson of West Yorkshire Police emphasized the relentless efforts of the Wakefield Neighbourhood Impact Team in collecting intelligence from the local community and taking decisive action to eradicate harmful drugs and dismantle the supply chain operated by profiteering criminals. With nearly £13 million worth of drugs removed from circulation, the team’s actions are significantly curbing drug use and reducing drug-related deaths. However, Superintendent Jackson stressed that addressing the underlying societal issues leading individuals towards drug use, production, and supply requires a collaborative approach. He emphasized the need for partnership and the implementation of diversion programs and efficient treatment services, all of which Project ADDER actively supports.

Recognizing the importance of art, creative writing, and community engagement in providing individuals in recovery with a renewed sense of purpose, local projects play a crucial role in supporting them. By offering stability through training, employment opportunities, and permanent housing, these initiatives contribute to building a life away from drugs and preventing relapse into addiction, crime, or further incarceration.

The remarkable achievements of Project ADDER in the Wakefield district serve as an inspiring example for similar initiatives nationwide, underlining the potential for disrupting criminal gangs and providing effective support for individuals struggling with drug addiction. As efforts continue to address the multifaceted challenges surrounding drug-related issues, collaboration and community involvement remain vital in creating lasting change and a safer society for all.