Agencies combine to tackle crack dealers

Social workers in Cambridge have improved information-sharing
with the police in response to an increase in the use of
crack-cocaine and the related rise in demand for social

Last September, dealers began to offer free rocks of crack to
single mothers in Cambridge who were known to use heroin. Within
two weeks, women who had had a £15-a-day heroin habit were
spending £250 a day on crack cocaine.

“There was a huge increase in the numbers of children requiring
protection which put a huge pressure on services,” said Tom Watt,
assessment manager at the council’s children and families team.

“Mothers who had been managing quite well while using heroin
suddenly weren’t taking their children to school and there would be
no food in the house. Within two weeks the children had been taken
into care.”

Social services decided to increase co-operation with the police
to identify the dealers and to bring anti-social behaviour orders
against occupiers of known crack-houses.

“It was clear quite early on that if all the services did not
intervene quickly then we would be swamped,” Watt said.

The multi-agency approach included youth offending teams, the
police, health visitors, housing providers, education services, and
drugs and alcohol services.

Use of crack among single mothers now appears to be decreasing,
but dealers have now moved on to other vulnerable groups, including
those with learning difficulties.

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