A seven-year-old girl found a jar containing a controlled drug, believed to be cocaine, outside her home.

The mother of Tilly Chapman, of Hillside Road, Low Bentham, said fortunately her daughter had the good sense to bring the container home otherwise her life could have been threatened.

Tracy Chapman believes the jar contained cocaine and North Yorkshire Police confirmed that it did contain a controlled drug. It has been sent off for further analysis.

“She thought it was sherbet or some kind of sweet,” said Mrs Chapman. “We called the police right away. You don’t know what the drug has been cut with.

“If she or any of the kids on the road had taken some it could have done a lot of damage. Things could have gone very wrong.

“It feels like no one is taking it seriously. I just feel really angry about the whole situation. It's a big worry to think that my child could find drugs on the road.”

The find prompted a deputation of residents to attend the October meeting of Bentham Town Council to complain about drug dealing they claim is happening regularly in the road.

“It feels like no one is taking it seriously,” said Mrs Chapman. “I just feel really angry about the whole situation. It's a big worry to think that my child could find drugs on the road.”

They said 18 schoolchildren lived on Hillside and numerous elderly people. They claimed that they have been subjected to a lot of traffic in the cul-de-sac associated with drug activity, plus arguments about money and blatant drug exchanges.

They informed the meeting that children at Bentham School had brought home letters warning about the situation. It was also reported that staff at Queen Elizabeth School, Kirkby Lonsdale, had rung all the parents of children from Bentham warning them about drug dealing in Low Bentham.

“Lots of children come and play on this road as it's away from the traffic,” said Hillside resident Alicia Greenup, who has three children. “It used to be a very safe place to play. I would like to see the authorities doing something about it.”

“We don't want this on our doorsteps,” said Richard Greenup. “There has been more police around since the council meeting but this has been going on for years.”

Sgt Mark Hill said police were treating the issues raised at the town council meeting as a 'top priority’. He said: “North Yorkshire Police are working with the residents and the housing associations that cover that area.

“We are making inquires into the powder. It is a priority because it's a community issue that residents are concerned about.

“Bentham like any town in England does have drugs in it but it is no worse than anywhere else.”

Extra police patrols have been on duty manning the road at various times of days. Two warrants have also been executed to search properties on Hillside Road.