KEIGHLEY'S MP says a momentum is building to make Keighley a national leader in the fight against drugs crime.

Kris Hopkins, who will be among those speaking at the official launch of the Drug Dealers Don’t Care – Keighley Residents Do campaign this Saturday, (Jan 21) branded those involved in selling drugs on the town's streets "disgraceful".

And he emphasised that the launch will not be a political event, inviting everyone who cares about the issue to attend the occasion and find out what is being planned.

Mr Hopkins said: “Since I launched my anti-drugs survey in Keighley Central last year, I've had hundreds of contacts with local people who want to join me in tackling the problem.

“As well as surveys being returned, my office has received a very large number of e-mails and phone calls from residents expressing their concerns, sharing their own experiences and offering their support.

“All of these contacts and conversations have been in absolute confidence, and I can assure other constituents who want to get involved that their anonymity will be fully protected.

“As a result of these efforts, we have established momentum and I believe our campaign will have a major impact.

“The support we are receiving from Crimestoppers and West Yorkshire Police is clearly invaluable because they are at the sharp end.

"I am equally indebted to Bradford District Safer and Stronger Communities Partnership, local councillors and community groups for their active involvement.

"But it is the local residents coming forward who I believe will have the greatest impact on our chances of success.

“We must stand together and stay the course. I believe we can make a positive difference and, indeed, project Keighley as a national leader in tackling drugs collectively as a community.

"I would appeal to everyone who can come along on Saturday to please join us at the launch.

"It is not a political event, it’s about doing something good for our town. Let’s get on with it.”

Late last year, Mr Hopkins said criminals who use young people to help them peddle illegal drugs in Keighley were “scum” and “cowards”.

Speaking during a parliamentary debate on Northern Ireland, he drew a parallel between the recruitment of vulnerable teenagers by dissident republican terrorists in the Province and the activities of drug dealers in Keighley.

He warned parents to be on the lookout for dealers trying to get their young children to transport drugs to avoid the attention of the police.

Drug Dealers Don’t Care – Keighley Residents Do was this week backed by Keighley town mayor Councillor Shabir Ahmed, who confirmed he would be attending the launch on Saturday.

Cllr Ahmed said he believed the drugs problem had worsened in the town over the past decade and noted the gang-related murders of four Keighley men in 2001 and 2002 should have served as a wakeup call.

He said younger and younger people were getting caught up in destructive, drug-fuelled lifestyles.

"Keighley isn't in a good state at the moment and it's needed something like this campaign for a long time, but it is better late than never," he said.

"It's a big step forward, and I'd like to thank Kris Hopkins and Keighley police inspector Khalid Khan.

"If we don't do something about the issue, it's only going to get even worse.

"It's in the interests of our future generations that we protect them from harm.

"The campaign is a worthwhile initiative and I'll be happy to support it in any way I can. I'd like to see all organisations, parents and other members of the public get involved too."

A spokesman for Mr Hopkins' office said it was important that when drug dealers are taken off the town's streets they are not simply replaced by another wave of dealers.

The campaign beginning this weekend will involve a number of organisations working together, including Crimestoppers, drug and alcohol dependency agency Project 6, Bradford Council's Keighley Area Co-ordinator's office, local schools and the Keighley Bus Company.

It is being funded with £3,000 from Bradford District Safer & Stronger Communities Partnership – an agency responsible for making Keighley and Bradford districts safer.

The initiative has been timed to launch just before this year's National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, which runs from January 23 to 29.

Among the activities planned to raise awareness in Keighley will be posters on buses, school assemblies and organised clean-ups of uninviting spots used for drug dealing or drug taking.