Large numbers of arrests are “making no difference” to dealing with drug problems, a charity has said.
South Wales Police has arrested 178 people in eight months as part of an operation to crack down on drug dealing in Cardiff and the surrounding area.
Det Ch Insp Tom Moore said the city was becoming a “more hostile” place for drug dealers to operate.
Martin Blakebrough, of the Kaleidoscope Project, said more support for addicts would provide a better solution.
In September, a charity worker said Wales was “drowning” in drugs gangs, with more than 100 operating across the country.
South Wales Police launched Operation Crater in April and has seized more than £175,000 worth of drugs and £100,000 in cash from various raids, while more than 30 people arrested in the operation have been convicted of drug-related crimes.
DCI Moore said the operation had been “really successful” and made a “real difference”.
“What we’re seeing is the prevalence and the ease you can obtain drugs on the streets has reduced,” he said.
“Every major city in the UK has got problems with drugs and violent crime, which are linked. What we have done is to make it a more hostile city for those that want to sell drugs.
“County lines and drug lines are an issue that’s faced by an awful lot of cities across the UK. We have identified what the issues are and put resources into it, which is tough everywhere at the moment.”
But Mr Blakebrough, chief executive of drugs charity the Kaleidoscope Project, said arresting such a large number of people was not helping the problem.
“We’re not seeing any reduction in the number of people coming into our services or people selling drugs on the street,” he said.
“It’s an outdated way of doing things. It doesn’t keep the community safer. The consequences of getting tough on drugs is that they [drug dealers] get tough on each other.
“It’s supply and demand. If there’s a demand there’ll always be people who take risks to supply. It just means that more the difficult it is, the more extremes people will go to.”
Mr Blakebrough said arrests would not solve the problem and resources needed to be pushed into prevention measures and treatment for addicts.
“What we have to do is make sure there’s support for people in the first place as to reduce demand.
“There are people who want to get help who can’t get help. How many of these people are trying to get into treatment services?
“There aren’t enough treatment services to treat them. It doesn’t solve the problem.
“Where they’re brilliant, the police, is actually helping people not getting into crime and assisting them into treatment and that’s where the resources need to go. But you can’t arrest your way out of drug issues.”