New pilot scheme launched by Thames Valley Police helps prosecute drug dealers quicker

A pilot scheme run by Thames Valley Police has helped to prosecute drug dealers quicker than previously possible.

The year-long pilot scheme, in partnership with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), has helped to expedite the process of possession with intent to supply (PWITS) cases through the criminal justice system by fast-tracking the identification of drugs.

Since the launch of the pilot on 1st October 2020, 25 cases have been submitted through Operation Yardbird, with six guilty pleas, and two sentences to date. The two sentences were for two years and eight months and three years and four months.

Previous procedures meant that it took an extended time for drug identification to take place meaning that there is the possibility of reoffending before charge.

With the evaluation by Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and funding from the Violence Reduction Unit and the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner, the force has been able to bring drugs coordinators and spectrometers in-house, meaning that identification of Class A drugs can be fast tracked. 

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Powell, of the Criminal Justice team, said: “This pilot wouldn’t have been possible without the funding and work from our partners.

“In the short time that the pilot has been running we have already had positive outcomes from technology, having sentenced two offenders and more guilty pleas entered. With the speed in which we can now process PWITS cases helps to break the drugs supply chain, and get criminals off our streets.

“Thames Valley Police is committed to tackling drug crime and this is just one way that we can bring offenders to justice and remove drugs from our communities.”