Tackling drug dealing is police priority
PUBLISHED: 07:00 23 September 2015
DRUG dealing in Weston-super-Mare has become a recognised force-wide police priority, with criminals targeting vulnerable people and moving addresses so quickly, homes are empty just hours before police can act.
‘Clever’ organised crime groups who may have operated in the town for ‘years’ and dealers coming from further afield are being targeted by Avon and Somerset Constabulary.
The ‘recognised’ problem in Weston means North Somerset police bosses are able to bid for extra resources.
Recently-appointed North Somerset Chief Inspector Tina Robinson said she has two priorities – police resources and drug crime in Weston.
She told Weston Town Council: “Weston at the moment is recognised across the whole force as a priority area for drug dealing.
“My priority is to tackle drug issues.
“There are three strands. Out of town people coming to Weston and getting in with vulnerable people and using those addresses to deal drugs, organised crime groups who may have been operating in Weston for years, and local street dealing.”
A report by the National Crime Agency highlighted how drug gangs are targeting coastal towns and exploiting vulnerable adults and children.
Chief Inspector Robinson said: “Drug problems are not just in seaside towns.
“There are dangerous drug groups in London, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester.
“There are almost too many of them and they need business and move somewhere more rural.
“It is about supporting vulnerable people who become exposed to drug use and take up drug dealing activity to pay debts.
“Sometimes someone thinks there is an opportunity in Weston for the next three to four weeks, then they’re gone again before we have enough intelligence to identify them.
“It’s basic things they do. They hire cars so cannot be identified and are moving around all the time.”
Chief Inspector Robinson has experience in dealing with organised crime, and said she is passing on her knowledge to her colleagues.
She said: “We had a meeting where we had agreed on three key premises to target with drug warrants. Only an hour after the meeting there was already intelligence to say those addresses had changed overnight.
“I am trying to encourage staff to get on top of it and deal with it quickly. We need resources to take that action.
“I am able to bid for resources to assist in Weston.
“It is never going to be as many as I want, but I will use them the best I can.
“Tackling organised crime groups is something I have got a lot of experience in. I am trying to educate colleagues on how to do that.
“But you don’t disrupt organised crime overnight. It takes weeks, probably months.
“Unfortunately it is not quick and will not happen straight away because they are very clever in how they operate and frustrate police tactics.”