POLICE believe new tactics are winning the war on drugs crime in Bradford after a dramatic rise in the value of seizures in the last three months.

Senior officers have also reported a sharp decline in the use of firearms, frequently associated with drug offenders, and a surge in the recovery of illegal weapons.

Officers have taken class A drugs worth £532,000 off the streets of Bradford since the start of April, compared to a £450,000 value for drugs seized the same time last year.

Also in that period there has been only one incident with a gun discharged, compared to five last year.

Officers have also taken five illegal weapons out of criminal hands, including three shotguns, a handgun and an air weapon powerful enough to need a licence.

There have also been 18 different seizures of ammunition.

West Yorkshire Police tactics of targeting those involved in drugs at every level from street dealers to wholesalers and importers may take some credit, but the quality of tip-offs from the public is is also regarded as a key reason for the changes.

Police believe residents have recognised the force's commitment to tackling drugs and have been given extra confidence to report their suspicions by the success of high profile prosecutions.

That includes a recent 'test purchase' operation where police sent in bogus junkies to buy drugs from dealers, providing the evidence for judges to hand down sentences totting up to 321 years in prison, taking more than 100 dealers off the streets.

It means more people are now passing information about dealers in their neighbourhood, either through direct contact with officers or through Crimestoppers.

While local policing teams deal with the most basic level of drug offenders, those involved in more serious dealing are targeted by specialist officers from Operation Quartz.

Police believe the so-called 'gangbo' rules, which allow for asbo style restrictions on gang members, which have been pioneered in this area are also responsible for a decline in violence.

"We understand the relationship between drugs and potential violence," said Det Chief Insp Peter Craig.

Gangbos have been used successfully in Keighley and Holmewood, allowing the courts to impose restrictions such as curfews on those known to be involved in gang activities.

"This allows us to disrupt them more quickly and more effectively, meaning we don't have to wait for violence to occur."

Official statistics show that many drugs offences are dealt with through cannabis warnings, cautions or fixed penalty fines and police stress they are reluctant to criminalise those who can be dealt with through education.

"Police are not really in the business of criminalising young people for minor offences. If we can manage people and educate them, that would be our primary objective.

"We are not using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but where we need to use a sledgehammer we will use it and target those who cause the biggest threat to the community and each other," he said.