A POLICE chief said yesterday that his vow to arrest a drug dealer a day is working.

"The dealer-a-day campaign is working - and working well," said Detective Superintendent Adrian Roberts, of Cleveland Police.

"Public reaction to our operations has been great. Residents are delighted to see positive police action being taken and the word we have coming back from the streets is that the dealers are on the back foot," said Det Supt Roberts.

"With the continued help of the public it can only get better," he said.

Eleven addresses in Middlesbrough have been raided in the past week, with drugs found at seven of the homes. Seven men and four women have been arrested for the supply or possession of drugs.

The operation's success comes as thousands of people in the town demanded a tougher line on drugs.

They have the backing of council leader Ken Walker, who is also chairman of the Cleveland Police Authority.

The petition received by Councillor Walker and Middlesbrough MP Stuart Bell calls for the seizure of dealers' assets and tougher sentencing for persistent offenders.

It is being sent to the unit set up to improve conditions for communities.

Coun Walker said: "We believe it is vital that the concerns of local communities reflected in this petition - and the enormous support it generated - should be passed on to the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit because of the importance which tackling the drugs menace could have on improving the lives of local communities and gaining their support.

"We will also be working with residents to draft a submission to go to the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, on the issue of how sentencing policy could be developed to both increase the deterrence of drug-related crime, and reflect the impact of offences on local communities.

"The emergency anti-terrorism legislation currently being considered by Parliament will in itself make a significant contribution to the fight against drugs.

"International terrorism depends on the drugs trade to fund its evil activities - and we have to wage against both.'