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Tackling drugs in Bradford 'like turning round a supertanker’
9:00am Friday 1st November 2013 in News
Tackling the drugs problem in Bradford will be like “turning round a supertanker”, a meeting heard last night.
Bradford Council’s Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee discussed a survey which revealed last week that public fears about the level of drug crime were far worse in the district than in the rest of West Yorkshire.
Nina Smith, senior policy officer on drugs and alcohol for the Council, told the committee: “There are a lot of people who are unhappy. How do we deal with it quickly? The answer is we are turning round a supertanker and we are doing our best.”
The questionnaire, which measures people’s perception of crime rather than the number of crimes recorded, was carried out by the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson.
It revealed that 68 per cent of respondents in the city centre and university areas believe that drug crime is a problem, compared with 64 per cent in 2008.
Overall, a total of 38 per cent of respondents across the Bradford district have fears about drug crime, a slight fall on the 41 per cent figure recorded in 2008.
About 4,000 Bradford households completed the survey, which asked them how much of a problem there was in their local area with people either using or dealing drugs.
But the survey drew criticism from Council officers and councillors.
Miss Smith said: “It is not a very representative survey at all. Many questionnaires will just go in the bin, non-respondents are not followed up. People can give a postcode if they want, but they can also be anonymous if they want. Even in affluent areas the response rate is still poor.”
The highest response rate was in Wharfedale and Craven, where a quarter of residents replied.
“The two critical questions for me are the extent to which the poor perception is driven by people’s perceptions of other places and people in other places – it could be about class or it could be about race.
“And secondly, has there been a change over time or is there still a disconnect between perception and reality?”
Coun Mike Gibbons (Con, Ilkley) said: “There is a perception that in affluent areas it is less of a problem. But that is not the case – these areas are becoming increasingly targeted.”
Liz Barry, commissioning manager for substance misuse at Bradford Council, said: “The long term is about reducing the things that make people turn to substance abuse.”
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