A COUNTY councillor has raised concern about an unusual increase in drug-related crime in Haltwhistle.

Coun. Ian Hutchinson raised the issue at Tynedale Local Area Committee.

Coun. Hutchinson was speaking to Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness, and asked what was being done about the spate of crime in the town.

He said: “Haltwhistle has been one of the safest areas in all of England, but recently there’s been quite a few problems.

“What are the intentions of the police force to try and alleviate the build-up of problems recently?”

Responding, Ms McGuiness said: “I can see we’ve had some drug-related deaths and crime in Haltwhistle recently which is unusual in the area. It needs a two-pronged approach with preventative work.”

The commissioner also pointed out that a criminal had recently received a “substantial sentence” for drug-related offences.

Ms McGuinness’ office has since confirmed she was referring to heroin dealer Robert Keen, who was jailed for 27 months at Newcastle Crown Court in January after he admitted possessing heroin with intent to supply and possessing cannabis.

The 38-year-old, of Cappel Avenue, Haltwhistle, was stopped by police in September 2020 while driving in the town with £140 worth of heroin in his wallet.

A search of his home later revealed 5.41g of heroin in a tin and nine further wraps, weighing 3.46g, in a vase.

Speaking after the meeting, Coun. Hutchinson said: “I am aware through community contacts that there are incidents of drug taking within the Haltwhistle area.

“I am in regular contact with the police and ask that anyone with information about drug supply or use that they contact the police or anonymously through Crimestoppers.

“Drugs can destroy lives, families and communities and I am determined to ensure our community is a safe and pleasant place to live.”

Crimestoppers can be contacted either online or by calling 0800 555 111.