RISING numbers of organised crime gangs are setting-up sophisticated cannabis farms across Keighley, it has been revealed.

And "serious disorders" between rival groups in the town have led to cars being rammed, assaults and a shooting incident at a petrol station.

Disclosure of the shocking picture in a new report – by police inspector Khalid Khan – comes as Crimestoppers launches a campaign highlighting the dangers and harm caused by serious organised crime gangs operating in Keighley, and urging people to speak-up anonymously if they know who is involved.

The charity says it realises the public may have reservations about coming forward, but that the information provided could be crucial in helping to make the town safer.

As part of the campaign, a Crimestoppers 'ad van' will visit the area on Friday and Saturday this week to promote the initiative.

It will include advice for young people on staying safe.

Gemma Gibbs, regional manager for Crimestoppers, said: "We are here for those who feel unable to speak directly to police, often because they fear retribution or because those involved are too close to home. Many people in the area know exactly who is involved in criminal gangs and exploitation, such as dealing in class A drugs.

"Do you know of people who don’t have a job but appear to live a lavish lifestyle? Have you seen unusual or suspicious activity, or heard about things happening on your street that you know are harmful and illegal?

"Crimestoppers values safe communities and we hope people will support us by giving information about those bringing serious crime to Keighley.

"Please do the right thing and help your community by either reporting what you know using our secure and simple online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org or by calling freephone 0800 555 111. No one will ever know you contacted us and with your help we can make Keighley a safer community."

Inspector Khan – of Keighley Neighbourhood Policing Team – says drugs "continue to blight our communities" and that tackling the problem is a key priority.

He said that last year alone, 36 cannabis farms were discovered in the Keighley area.

Six drugs warrants were executed and a substantial amount of class A and B drugs recovered.

Recorded drugs crimes soared from 125 to 191, which Insp Khan attributed to the various operations set-up across Keighley.

"With large convictions linked to Operation Errantdance in Bradford no doubt this will further cut-out the supply chains which are continuously targeting the users of Keighley," he said.

Insp Khan said the disorder incidents, which occurred late last year, had been dealt with immediately.

He added: "Operation Jemlock was instigated with the support of our partners and additional resources brought into Keighley, proactively targeting individuals linked to the organised crime groups and criminality in general.

"This was to reassure our communities – which were fed-up with the conduct of these individuals – and to give a clear message to those involved that their actions would not go unpunished."

Nearly 40 people were arrested and several went on to receive custodial sentences.

Insp Khan – who will present a report on policing in the town during the past year to members of Keighley Area Committee on Thursday – said Keighley was no different from other similar parts of the force area, with huge demands placed on it and an increase in the volume and complexities of its day-to-day work.

But he said the overall crime rate across Keighley – and Ilkley – had dropped by 432, due to "some excellent work by our staff and support from our partners and communities".

"In line with our force priorities we have continuously focused on reducing crime – and substantial resources have been brought into Keighley in addition to working with partners to ensure our communities are safe and feel safe," says Insp Khan.

"Amongst the priorities, particular focus has been placed on reducing burglary dwellings. Despite a change in the recording process, whereby we now record outbuildings such as garages and

sheds as burglary dwellings, we saw 144 less victims of domestic burglaries and 57 fewer victims of commercial burglaries.

"Vehicle-related crime, with break-ins and 'interference', was down by 104 compared to the previous year – however we did see an increase by 32 of theft of motor vehicle offences, which contained a good proportion of motorbikes and scooters."

The crackdown continued against irresponsible and law-flouting motorists.

Twenty-five operations were carried out in Keighley, with support from Operation Steerside officers and partner organisations.

Additional funds provided through the Proceeds of Crime Act and by Keighley Town Council resulted in extra Steerside resources being deployed.

As a result, 959 drivers were prosecuted for a variety of offences.

Initiatives such as community speedwatch schemes had also been supported and speed-indicator devices utilised in areas identified by communities as being a problem.

Another key target has been dealing with anti-social behaviour.

Issues have ranged from groups of youngsters and drinkers causing problems in the town centre, to off-road motorbikers and individuals begging across the district.

Insp Khan said: "Where appropriate we have adopted early-interventions processes, however this does not mean we take anti-social behaviour lightly.

"Individuals have been arrested where there was a requirement and positively dealt with."

He thanked community 'interveners' who had supported the police and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service during the Bonfire period, which in the past has seen firefighters come under attack.

"Due to the interveners' outstanding commitment to support their communities we have seen some of the quietest periods in years – with people enjoying the Bonfire period as they should be able to," said Insp Khan.

He added that a considerable amount of work had been carried out with schools, particularly aimed at year-six primary school pupils, identifying issues and helping to ensure youngsters are not groomed into criminal activities.

And cyber officers have also been visiting schools to deliver internet safety sessions.

The team has worked with 17 schools across Keighley – not just with the students, but also with parent groups, governors and members of relevant organisations.

Insp Khan said the police were "very fortunate" in Keighley to have the opportunity to take part in a large number of community events.

Town mayor, Councillor Peter Corkindale, says he is "delighted" that many areas of crime in Keighley have shown a reduction.

"It demonstrates that the police are working very hard to keep us all safe despite cuts to the service," he said.

"It has been a privilege to work with the police in funding Operation Steerside, something we are looking to continue over the next 12 months. The number of people that have been dealt with for anti-social driving and the number of uninsured vehicles removed from the roads alone make it all worthwhile.

"Keighley Town Council has been actively involved with the Cougars Foundation, which is within schools delivering the message against the drug culture – particularly county lines – and the dangers that young people face from grooming.

"I am particularly proud of the work that several of our councillors put in over the Bonfire period. Based in and around central Keighley, they were willing and able to respond to flashpoints where their experience and timely intervention prevented any form of trouble or anti-social behaviour with local youths. The model is so successful, it is being rolled out over other areas in the district where anti-social behaviour has traditionally been prevalent."

Councillor Corkindale added: "The promise of a new police station in the town and increased numbers of officers will I hope ensure that this downward trend continues.

"The work by Insp Khan and his team is greatly appreciated, certainly by me and the council and I believe by the wider public at large. So well done to them and please continue the good work."