Marking one year of Project Adder


Merseyside has seen a reduction in drugs offences, weapon possession and an increase in drug users being referred to drug support agencies since last April following the introduction of a programme to cut drug-related crime and harm in our communities.

In January 2021, a funding package was announced for Project ADDER (Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement and Recovery), a joint Home Office, Department for Health and Social Care and Public Health England programme.

It was introduced to test a whole-system approach to tackling drug misuse and drug-related crime, which is driven by police and local authority partners and involves drug treatment and recovery services.

A total of £1.6m was given to Merseyside Police with additional funding given to the local authority areas of Liverpool, Wirral and Knowsley. This was to focus on illegal drug use and drug-related crime as well as providing focussed support for those in need including those leaving prison, and people experiencing homelessness and health interventions. The sum was agreed by the Home Office until March 2025 and joint plans are underway for the future.

Wirral, Liverpool and Knowsley have already benefited from Project Adder and have recorded 70 organised crime group disruptions in the area between July-December 2021. Officers also executed 213 drug warrants in this time.

Arrests for drug related offences (Drug Possession and Drug Trafficking) was at 1489 and the number of drug users referred to a drug referral agency was 1481. Charge and summons for drug related Offences was 976 and the number of cannabis warnings was 61.

Possession of weapon offences decreased by 17.9%, resulting in 257 fewer crimes compared to last year.

Drug offences on Merseyside also saw a reduction of 4.7%.

Weapons possession offences dropped by 10.7%.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “Project Adder is marking one year of operation and the early results are really pleasing to see – more organised criminal gangs being disrupted, offenders behind bars and, crucially, vulnerable drug users diverted into drug treatment and recovery services.

“I have made early intervention a priority in my Police and Crime Plan, and I have seen first-hand the brilliant work of the Project Adder teams and the difference they are making for individuals and communities.

“By supporting those who are vulnerable and giving them the help, they need, we can prevent crime and build brighter futures for them, their families and whole communities.

“Policing alone cannot tackle the issue of drugs in our community that’s why it’s vital we combine enforcement with treatment and support through a whole-system approach. While there are no quick solutions, the results so far are very encouraging.”

Detective Superintendent Lisa Mahon said: “It’s pleasing to see these reductions following the introduction of Project Adder, particularly drug offences which can affect vulnerable families and residents in our community and claim so many lives each year.

“The Project Adder approach combines co-ordinated and targeted law enforcement with expanded diversionary programmes, such as Out of Court Disposal Orders, and enhanced treatment and recovery services, including housing and employment support.

“This not only helps to support vulnerable people to integrate into society, and steer them away from crime, but also prevents further crimes and ultimately protects the wider public from becoming victims.

“We have a range of other operations to help these efforts, including regular patrols, stop searches and Project Medusa which aims to dismantle County Lines drug dealing network and protect the often young and vulnerable people who become part of it through exploitation.

“Our officers will continue to target perpetrators who exploit vulnerable drug users and will support and work with anyone subjected to cuckooing, county lines and drug trafficking, so we can identify key offenders and put them before the courts.”

Cabinet member for Liverpool Council’s Social Care and Health, Councillor Frazer Lake said: “Liverpool Adder funding has strengthened drug treatment in the city and has allowed resources to work differently and collaboratively to support vulnerable people.

“Schemes such as community social prescribing, needle syringe exchanges and sexual health interventions for sex workers are improving health and supporting safer communities.

“Additional Residential Rehabilitation bed nights are increasing the number of people staying abstinent – which is improving social relationships and employment and training opportunities.

“This partnership approach allows the focus to be on the issue and not just the crime - enabling people to learn how to move away from criminal activities.”

Wirral Council Chair Adult Social Care and Public Health Committee, Councillor Yvonne Nolan, said: “Project Adder shows the effectiveness of increasing the focus on supporting people struggling with addiction, including treatment and support into work. Drugs are a scourge which disproportionately affect our most vulnerable and those in the most deprived areas, and helping those affected regain control of their lives can only be beneficial them for them, their families and their communities.”

Councillor Shelley Powell, Knowsley Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, said “The funding has enabled partners to effectively tackle drug misuse and drug-related crime which has resulted in drugs being taken off our streets and organised crime groups disrupted. We will build on the successes and the impact this has had over the last 12 months as our work with partners continues to reduce crime, provide effective treatment pathways and protect communities from the damage and destruction we know drugs can have on people’s lives.”

If you have any information about suspected drug dealing in your area please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Please contact @MerPolCC, 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Always call 999 if a crime is in progress.