NEW steps are being taken to crack down on the use of drugs and substance abuse in Ryedale.

And police have warned they also aim to target motorists who drive after taking drugs.

The move coincides with a Government initiative entitled Tackling Drugs Week.

Ryedale Police have drawn up plans to target schools and shoppers visiting supermarkets in a bid to raise awareness of the dangers of drugs and substance abuse across the area.

The area initiative has been co-ordinated by Ryedale Partnership and the Ryedale Safer Neighbourhood Policing Team.

The county’s traffic police also warned they would be targeting drug-drivers by carrying out field impairment tests on those they think should not be behind the wheel.

Insp Dave Brown, head of strategic roads policing, said: “People naively believe that it is not dangerous or are unaware of the penalties and think the police do not check for drug-driving.

“But we can assure them that we can and do carry out roadside testing and anyone found under the influence of drugs can face up to six months in prison, a heavy fine plus a driving ban.”

Local police officers in Ryedale have arranged to visit schools to discuss the dangers of drugs and other substances with pupils and staff.

A Ryedale police spokesman said: “The aim is to raise their awareness of the dangers that drug abuse can have not just on the lives of users but also their friends and families.”

Officers were present at Morrisons supermarket in Malton yesterday (Tuesday) and also in the foyer of the Co-op store in Pickering.

A presentation was also given by DC Matt Rodgers at the Helmsley CAP group meeting yesterday at Helmsley Town Hall.

Other events planned for the week include an open day at Ryedale Alcohol and Drugs Advisory Centre, attendance by police community support officers at Pickering Junior School’s summer fair, displays at Norton College and an open police surgery in Malton Market Place this Saturday, where officers will be available to talk to shoppers and visitors.

“We are committed to ensuring that the residents of our area are well informed and able to make educated choices in their lives about drugs using fact, not anecdotal fiction, to ensure Ryedale remains of the safest areas in the country to live, work and visit,” said the spokesman.

Anyone who wishes to give information or speak to an officer can phone 0845 60 60 247 in confidence.