Police reveal town areas hit hardest by drugs

Swindon Advertiser: Sgt Louis McCoy with cannabis discovered in a raid in Durham Street in July this year Sgt Louis McCoy with cannabis discovered in a raid in Durham Street in July this year

POLICE have revealed the communities in the town hardest hit by the ongoing war on drugs.

Officers of Wiltshire Police’s Dedicated Crime Team, which was formed three years ago to tackle the narcotics trade in the town, use surveillance technology and information from the public in a bid to stay ahead of the drug dealers, many of whom travel from London and Birmingham.

Sergeant Scott Hargreave, who leads the small unit based at Gablecross police station, said their modus operandi was to use the homes of drug addicts as a base for their activities.

Penhill , Gorse Hill , the town centre and the Railway Village, all areas with a relatively high proportion of social housing, have been identified by police as the main communities affected by the out-of-town drugs gangs.

Sgt Hargreave said: “These substances ruin lives and devastate the communities where these gangs establish themselves.”

In the past three months the unit has carried out raids or stopped cars in each of the areas, seizing large amounts of suspected crack cocaine and heroin and arresting dozens of people, mostly from the capital or the Midlands.

“In the last two to three months around 20 people among those we have dealt with have been from London or Birmingham,” said Sgt Hargreave.

“In the same two to three-month period we have seized large amounts of class A substances. We cannot specify the amounts we have recovered as they have been sent to the lab for analysis but I can say they have been large enough in each instance for arrests on suspicion of possession with intent to supply.

“They form the majority of the organised crime network in the region and we work with other forces and agencies to share intelligence.

“These dealers, who are the next level up in the supply chain, tend to come to Swindon and target vulnerable people – drug users, single mums – and use their homes to run their activities.

“While these may be in areas like Penhill, Gorse Hill or the town centre, deals take place everywhere, in any part of the town.

“They are very cautious about how they operate and who they deal with, using parks and quiet areas, but sometimes are blatant enough to do it in the open.

“I would urge anyone who sees anything suspicious to contact us immediately and information will be treated in the strictest confidence.”

Anyone with any information should contact the Dedicated Crime Team on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously if preferred, on 0800 555 111.

WE WILL HELP

SWINDON’S Community Safety Partnership has pledged to help vulnerable council tenants who fall prey to drug traffickers.

As organised out-of-town gangs look to establish themselves in Swindon they are commandeering the homes of vulnerable drug users, police have said, as they work with Swindon Council to combat criminal activity in hard-hit communities.

Richard Palusinski, head of the CSP, said the council’s housing and anti-social behaviour teams would look to rehome those who find themselves imposed upon by the dealers.

He said: “The ASB team work closely with the police and we also get complaints about activity that is questionable at best or illegal at worst.

“In the past we have had crack den closures, although we have not had any in Swindon for a while.

“My personal view is that for people who find themselves in a situation such as that, rehousing can probably be the best thing for them.

“In the past six months I would say the number of people who have been rehomed is in single figures – we have certainly not been rehoming people en masse.

“We also run treatment programmes for people who want to break free from drug addiction and have moved from a maintenance programme to a recovery programme whereby users are not just put on methadone, and that’s marked as a success but they get the help to get off all drugs. It’s more long-term and sustainable.

“The other key thing is that people need to report any issues they have concerns about in their area and any information will of course be treated as confidential.”

To contact the CSP call 01793 466506 or email csp@swindon.gov.uk .

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