Stop Tracking Drug Dealers, We’ve Arrested Enough Already

A police force criticised for its supposed liberal stance on drugs was yesterday accused of ordering officers to stop logging intelligence about drug dealers because they had already hit the annual arrests target. The HM Inspectorate of Constabulary claimed that two divisions within North Wales Police were “instructed” not to enter the information on the force computer as further arrests would lead to a higher target the following year.

The HMIC’s annual report into the force said the order was later withdrawn but claimed it reflected “a worrying aspect of performance culture”.

The report states: “In at least two of the operational divisions, officers were instructed not to put any more intelligence about drug dealing on to the system because they had achieved their annual target for arrests.

“More intelligence requires more pro-activity, which would lead to more arrests and the imposition of a more demanding target for the next performance year.

“This instruction has now been withdrawn, but reflects a worrying aspect of performance culture.”

The force’s figures so far this year show a 63 per cent drop in charges and summonses for Class A supply, from 83 to 30.

The force is led by Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom, who has been criticised for his crusade against speeding motorists and a relatively liberal attitude to drug policy. He has called for some drugs to be legalised.

A force spokesman said the information within the report was based on individual officers’ perceptions, and not official policy.

The report was generally favourable to North Wales Police, revealing that burglary was down by 19 per cent and vehicle crime down by 22 per cent.

It also noted: “The force continues to feature in national media stories that do not always add to its reputation, and chief officers need to be vigilant to avoid becoming the story.”

Last night Mr Brunstrom said he now knew what had happened. He quoted an e-mail sent last November by Chief Supt Michelle Williams, in charge of Central Division, who said that the division “has significantly exceeded its annual performance target for drugs supply, accordingly supply of class A drugs is temporarily removed from the control strategy”.

She added: “In order to exceed our targets for burglary, violent crime, vehicle crime and hate crime, we must now focus on achieving detections in these important areas.”

Mr Brunstrom said: “Michelle Williams was right then, she’s right now and I’m right behind her.”