2017 saw some big crime stories as police battle to get to grips with the scourge of drugs on the streets of Worcester.

A shocking photo of two drug users slumped in a Worcester city centre doorway was published on our front page in August, producing an outcry among readers. The publication of the photo followed a suspected heroin overdose outside McDonald's restaurant, opposite where the picture was taken.

One of the biggest drugs stories to break this year was police success in exposing a cocaine conspiracy to bring the class A drug into Worcester in bulk from Liverpool. Estimates varied about the amount but it was reckoned to involve not less than 12kg of the class A drug in a two year period. A conservative estimate of the street value of the drugs was £400,000.

Many of the gang’s main players denied their role in the conspiracy but the jury found them guilty after a long trial which began in October and dragged on into late November.

The gang leader, Ashley James, got 18 years for his role in the conspiracy. James Jones, another of the conspirators, received 15 years and Todd Porter, whose fingerprints were on some of the drugs, received 13 years.

There were gasps from the public gallery as judge Robert Juckes QC handed out the sentences.

But judge Juckes made it clear that he thought the defence offered by the conspirators was ludicrous and stressed the importance of handing out deterrent sentences.

Some of the lieutenants and street dealers who had admitted their role in the conspiracy were sentenced later, receiving reductions in their jail terms because of their decision to plead guilty.

The trial at times was riveting and was a demonstration of old-fashioned police work but with the use of modern technology to build up a strong case.

The investigation involved a bugged van, secret recordings, forensic analysis and a detail investigation into how the money was laundered, spent on holidays, cars, jewellery and luxury holidays.

There was also the added court room drama of seeing some of the conspirators subject to excoriating cross-examination from John Butterfield QC.

It was a year in which south Worcestershire’s policing commander, superintendent Kevin Purcell, vowed to stop criminals extending their drugs empires into Worcester.

Operation Blade was launched in September as part of an effort to push back the cross-border drugs gangs which led to a string of arrests – 21 and counting by November.

Large quantities of drugs have also been seized and drugs dens in Teme Road, Tolladine, Worcester and Shepherds Place, Droitwich were closed by police. This involves metal shutters being placed on the doors and windows and tenants being evicted.

It’s easy to forget sometimes that people addicted to class A drugs such as heroin who commit crime to fund their habit may also be vulnerable, exploited by those further up the chain who may use them as drugs runners or even set up shop in their homes.

Supt Purcell expressed his determination to tackle these criminal gangs and organised crime groups and the violence associated with drugs.

DC Simon Lloyd suffered a broken leg after being struck by a drug suspect’s car in Worcester at the junction of Barbourne Road and Shrubbery Avenue in Worcester in October, a measure of the risks officers take every day in the fight to keep drugs off the streets.

August saw the appearance of of Wes Joyce in the courts. The former soldier and Worcester City footballer is perhaps best known for donating his kidney to Sally-Anne Grainger. However, Mr Joyce showed his darker side when he attacked a man found in the home of his estranged wife. He was jailed for two years.

In September we reported an increase in knife crime in south Worcestershire from 94 in 2015/16 to 111 in 2016/17 . This also followed an increase from the previous year.

In October we reported not on a crime but a man who spent his life fighting it.

Detective inspector Stuart Murphy retired after 30 years as a police officer.

The 54-year-old was commended five times, including for bravery and once had a gun pointed at him in the line of duty.

Recent work has involved cutting off the supply of drugs, including heroin and crack cocaine, into Worcester and putting the dealers behind bars.

This included a gang of Somali crack cocaine dealers who were jailed last year after setting up shop in the city.

He was also involved in investigating the murder of Adrian Locke in Teme Road, Tolladine, Worcester, who was stabbed to death on January 2, 2013. Rafael Marks, who also uses the name Rikko, and Micah Golding, both denied murdering the 39-year-old but were convicted after a 11-day trial at Worcester Crown Court.