THE amount of drugs taken from people by police in the county has risen over the past year, figures reveal.

According to new statistics, the number of drug seizures by police rose in 2018/19 on the previous by 16 per cent.

Police celebrated the rise saying it showed they were catching a higher number of offenders.

Statistics showed there were 968 drug seizures by police in Cumbria, the highest figure since 2015.

Adjusting for population the force seized more drugs than forces such as Greater Manchester and West Midlands.

The most commonly seized drug in the county was cannabis and the second highest was cocaine.

Detective Chief Superintendent Dean Holden said: “We view any rise in the number of drug seizures in Cumbria as a positive development – because this means we are catching more drugs offenders.

“We know drug dealing is a concern for people in Cumbria and we work hard all-year-round to disrupt, catch and prosecute those involved in this criminality.

“Drug seizures increase because of the proactive work we do targeting offenders.

“In the last year we have had major successes in which numerous drugs offenders have received significant sentences.

“This work has included tackling county lines gangs targeting our communities, with organised crime groups broken up and significant sentences handed out at court."

Pointing out examples, he said: “In north Cumbria we had a county lines group receive jail sentences totalling nearly 90 years. In west Cumbria an operation has led to more than 25 arrests and drugs with a street value of more than £100,000 recovered.

“We have an operation in south Cumbria which has led to nearly 40 people being charged. Cases are still going through the courts so we can’t comment further on this operation.

“Our actions show without doubt that Cumbria is no soft touch for those seeking to supply drugs – and we work with partner agencies to ensure those vulnerable people who are exploited are safeguarded. We continue to encourage the public to report any suspicions they have."