DRUG crime has risen sharply in Bradford, in a worrying contrast to other major cities in England and Wales, which have generally seen a decrease in figures.

In a BBC analysis of police recorded crime, it was found that, in 2018, 1,408 drug crimes were registered in Bradford, a huge increase from the 977 in 2017.

It was the first time the figure had been over 1,000 since 2013 (1,256). In contrast, other major cities like Leeds (2,073 to 1,905), Manchester (2,495 to 1,842) and Liverpool (5,627 to 4,752) have seen a fall in drug crimes from 2013 to 2018.

The statistics from other parts of the Bradford District were mixed. Like Bradford itself, Brighouse, Liversedge and Wilsden have seen an increase from 2013 to 2018, while the number has gone up from 51 to 62 in Shipley.

Conversely, Baildon, Bingley, Denholme and Thornton have all seen a decrease in recorded drug crimes during that time period, with Keighley's numbers falling from 159 in 2013 to 110 in 2018.

The figures for Bradford drew a passionate response from ward councillor David Ward (Lib Dem, Bolton and Undercliffe), who felt that Bradford could learn lessons from cities like Glasgow.

He said: "Police have have put increased focus on it in Glasgow and there's been a lot of intense work done on it, especially at youth level.

"Criminals are inventive in their appalling deeds though, so if one route is blocked, they will look for an easier one.

"We've seen county lines spread into rural areas for example."

Cllr Ward believes Bradford, and other cities and towns, need to focus on dealing with drug problems in a positive manner.

He said: "Boris Johnson's knee-jerk reaction is that we need more and more police and to lock people up for longer.

"But that's not it. If you look at the interventions taking place, it's going into schools and speaking with young people and offering a service.

"We have to think of positive ways for people to spend their time, as drugs are an addiction, which need to be treated that way.

Cllr Ward also addressed a parliamentary investigation, which has found that criminal “chicken shop gangs” are recruiting children,often those who have been expelled, to deal drugs with the offer of free food.

He warned: "There's a very clear link between expelled children and people who end up in a Youth Offenders Institute or prison.

"Schools need to do more, as the safest place for a child is in school and all excluding pupils does is pass the problem on to another school or leave them not in education.

"Schools are off-rolling too, which is illegal and means those pupils are lost to the system.

"They're vulnerable and those with criminal intentions are more likely to recruit them."

In a statement, West Yorkshire Police said: “Police in Bradford work proactively to tackle the supply of illegal drugs in the district as this is often linked to serious organised crime.

“This type of crime often involves networks of criminals operating across district and sometimes force boundaries, so our local neighbourhood officers work with specialist resources at West Yorkshire Police to carry out operations targeting those involved in the supply of illegal drugs.

“In June fourteen people were jailed for more than 80 years following an investigation into the supply of heroin and crack cocaine in Bradford, and last month another four men from the Bradford area received sentences of more than 27 years after police uncovered a conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis.

“Information from communities is key to these operations like these and people can report it to police on 101, using the options on the West Yorkshire Police website or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”