Drug education success

Monday, 09 December, 2013

East Staffordshire Local Policing Team Commander Ch Insp Steve Maskrey, who has led the Local Policing Operation and subsequent Community Engagement phase of the Operation



Police in East Staffordshire, are going from strength to strength with their latest tool being used in the battle against drugs.

In January 2013 more than 250 police officers carried out the biggest anti-drugs operation the county had ever seen. Operation Nemesis is the name given to the forces flagship operation targeting suspected drug dealers and bringing them to justice with over 45 suspects arrested, over 20 convicted totalling over 90 years in custodial sentences.

Proactive police enforcement activity is only part of the story. Nemesis also involves working with partner agencies to help drug user’s access help for their addiction, encouraging them to live drug free lives and play a positive role in society.

Building on the success of the enforcement element of Nemesis the force are now keen to promote the details of their educational programme being rolled out in schools across East Staffordshire in an attempt to spread the Nemesis message and the dangers drugs pose to youngsters and put a stop to the problem before it has a chance to start.

Chief Inspector Steve Maskrey, one of the men leading the scheme, said: “It was agreed from the outset that Operation Nemesis would involve more than just law enforcement.”

“It is important that we look at the root cause of the problem and go back to young people and harness the power of education in particular. We are used to providing top quality enforcement operations but that’s where it has ended. This is a new take, it’s about getting to the root cause and becoming a lot more proactive instead of just reactive.”

The force also insists that Operation Nemesis isn’t just the force’s moment in the sun - that it is only the beginning of a project to benefit school children for years to come, the foundations of which are being put in to place by officers and carried on by the teachers. It is hoped the project will become a regular part of children’s PSHE lessons.

The ground breaking scheme is being led by the police, but partners from the county, including substance misuse workers, sexual health workers and ex drug users, also have a major involvement in delivery.

Parents of drug users also provide an input on the bespoke panel and provide hard hitting stories on how drugs have impacted on their lives and the lives of their children. Ch Insp Maskrey added: “The sessions are very audience led. There is very little talking on our part.

“It’s about saying to the young people ‘what do you want to talk about? What do you want to know?” and then having the experts there to answer their questions. “We work closely with our colleagues in local councils, health services and those who work for Staffordshire’s drug support and treatment services. We place a huge emphasis on helping addicts kick their habit and give young people the opportunity to make their own decisions when it comes to drugs.

We also offer a great deal of support to their parents by attending parents evenings and holding sessions specifically for parents / carers.” Staffordshire Police chiefs have also commented that working with youngsters in schools across the county will form a ‘major part’ of dealing with the fallout of Operation Nemesis as young people often know better than anyone what is going on out there on the streets.

The project has already visited 6 high schools in the Burton upon Trent area with another 6 planned in the early part of 2014. Each young person receiving booklets and information from the agencies involved in delivery.

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