COVERT patrols and house raids disrupted the equivalent of more than 1,000 drug deals in west Reading in six months, but neighbours say police should still be doing more to wreck the illicit trade.

The Abbey and Battle neighbourhood Inspector Keith Stacey told a public meeting that drugs seized from house raids and individual dealers in Reading since July amounted to 485 deals of cannabis, 484 of crack cocaine, 93 of heroin and 300 cannabis plants destined for sale in the Oxford Road area. He was addressing a meeting at the Curzon Club in Oxford Road on Thursday [31] called by Reading West MP Alok Sharma to strengthen links between residents and the police.

Inspector Stacey told the 50-strong audience: "We have secured warrants and we've seized hundreds of deals of drugs. We've also had the opportunity to target high end deals."

But one man from Curzon Street, too frightened to give his name, told the meeting: "The area is still attracting drugs problems and it's starting to increase in the Beresford Road area."

Paul Bosse, a reformed addict who lives in Cranbury Road, added: "If you stop it in one area it doesn't reduce that behaviour it moves it in a big cycle round and round. Pure enforcement will never have an absolute effect to stop it."

But area police commander, Superintendent Stuart Greenfield, said he is committed to getting on top of the problem and urged the public to report incidents.

He added: "Our responsibility is to enforce the law where we can. We want to see where's it's happening so we can stop that."

Residents also claimed police are struggling to contain problems with sex workers and John Lyttle, who used to live off the Oxford Road but has moved to Caversham, said: "On both sides of the street you see prostitutes down by McDonalds late at night but you never see a policeman anywhere."

Supt Greenfield said his officers are focusing on more covert methods to tackle prostitution, drugs and burglary and added: "It's the best way to lop the head off the serpent. We have finite resources and we can't have thousands of police on the streets. The visibility is reassuring but we need to take a more scientific approach."