Police chief's USA trip follows campaign win
A GROUNDBREAKING campaign cracking down on rogue drug treatment centres and houses of multiple occupation in Weston has sparked international interest. Operation Jupiter has seen the authorities close hundreds of badly run bedsits, slash drug-related crim
A GROUNDBREAKING campaign cracking down on rogue drug treatment centres and houses of multiple occupation in Weston has sparked international interest.Operation Jupiter has seen the authorities close hundreds of badly run bedsits, slash drug-related crime and stem the flow of addicts coming to the town for treatment. The police-led operation works by forcing landlords and unregulated treatment centres to raise their game or face having the book thrown at them by a host of Government agencies.Earlier this month the initiative beat over 70 others around the country to come runner up in the Tilley policing awards, taking a £1,500 prize.The operation has also caught the eye of crime fighters in America, who invited Weston's top police officer, Chief Superintendent Tracy Hayler, to speak to hundreds of specialists in Wisconsin.Chief Supt Hayler gave the Weston & Somerset Mercury an exclusive interview about the hard-hitting campaign ahead of her American trip.She said: "An invitation came completely out of the blue to present our work in America. "It's a real privilege to be invited to talk to an international audience about the success and hopefully we'll bring back a lot of ideas."The operation came about from research showing that Weston had an influx of people coming for drug treatment who would often fall out, stay on and become chaotic drug users."We could see that if agencies like trading standards, health and safety, the Inland Revenue and the council's housing department worked as a team, they could improve things dramatically."Each agency inspects problematic properties with a fine-toothed comb. Breaches are pointed out and landlords are given the opportunity to come up to scratch."Some wanted to work with us and are now providing decent accommodation. Two years later and 130 problem bedsits have been closed."At the same time work was done to stem the flow of people coming into Weston for treatment."For the first time we persuaded the probation service to issue a national directive so people would not be referred to the worst premises in Weston, two of which have since closed."The effects are already being felt. Fewer people are coming for treatment, those that are here are staying in accommodation longer. "Hundreds of problem bedsits have closed down, property prices are going up and crime is going down in problem areas. Burglary is down 39 per cent and we know that almost all theft related crime, particularly burglary, is committed by people with drug problems.