POLICE are relying on households to report 'anything and everything' to help stop violence and drug gangs returning to the streets of an Oxford estate.

Sgt Neil Applegarth was appointed head of the Blackbird Leys neighbourhood team in June during a summer which saw several stabbings, but says there has been a reduction in the number of incidents during his six months in charge.

The team has spent the quieter period steadily building up a vast quantity of information to prevent further crimes taking place in the area.

Sgt Applegarth said: "We probably have not seen the last of the violence but we seem to be on top of it at the moment.

"In the past we have had problems like 'cuckooing' where drug dealers take over the homes of vulnerable people to deal from, which allows them to get a foothold into the community.

"People come from other places and spread their tentacles into a city like ours.

"We are trying to get ahead of that game and stop them getting a hold into the estate.

"It is a challenge to find out who they are and what is going on.

"Most of the time the people who know best are the ones who live next door.

"The most important message I have got for people is to tell us anything and everything that may be happening on their street."

The appeal comes after residents raised concerns that dealers are becoming more brazen and openly selling drugs.

Sgt Applegarth admits that dealing is 'an endemic problem' and says that, although the focus is on catching people who organise the drugs trade higher up, residents should be reassured that all intelligence is acted upon.

He said: "People may expect to see police officers jumping out of hedges but that is only one thing we can do.

"A lot happens covertly that people will not necessarily see.

"This doesn't mean we are not active."

Part of the problem, according to Sgt Applegarth, is that all information given to the police is anonymised in a complex system used to protect sources.

He said: "A lot of the information is handled in exactly the same way as intelligence about terrorism, for example.

"The source is only known by one or two people in the whole force – and they are totally protected by law.

"This means that anyone who tells us anything can be completely assured of their security.

"It would be nice to be able to update people with what we have done with the information they shared but it is not worth the risk of betraying them to somebody."

This means that a lot of the action taken on the back of information given to officers during an extensive door-to-door operation never make it back to the residents who first raised concerns.

Sgt Applegarth describes a 'overwhelmingly positive' reception to this exercise so far with 500 homes visited and only three per cent of those quizzed not wishing to engage with officers.

Whilst drugs is consistently raised as the number one issue facing residents, many list more trivial concerns such as parking as their first priority.

"There is a recognition that the streets of the estate are not dangerous places to be", according to the Sergeant.

"People take a very pragmatic approach.

"They genuinely do not seem any more afraid than they were six months ago."