Ipswich police wage war on London drug gangs
Police in Ipswich believe using new tactics in the battle against London drug gangs is stemming the tide of dealers targeting the town.
The influence of gangs from the capital is illustrated by Suffolk Constabulary figures which show 431 people from London have been arrested on suspicion of drug offences in the county in just over two years.
Ipswich area commander Superintendent Louisa Pepper said constant enforcement allied to creativity and a community-based approach has seen one major gang driven out of the town.
Supt Pepper said: “We are not going to tolerate drug dealing. The county line into Ipswich has been very lucrative for dealers coming from outside the town and we will continue to target them.”
Over the years Supt Pepper has been involved in arresting, charging and convicting a relentless tide of drug dealers who have been sent to Ipswich from London.
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Last year she warned of a harder edge to their activities, exploiting adolescents and using more extreme violence to get what they want.
Officers have been working to find new proactive ways of combatting dealers intent on bringing their activities into Suffolk.
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Twelve months on Supt Pepper feels police, with the help of other organisations and residents, have made an impact.
Although the constabulary has also identified issues in Leiston, West Suffolk and Lowestoft it insists headway has been made in the battle against Woolwich and Hackney-based gangs peddling drugs in Ipswich.
Supt Pepper said: “This is a key part of Suffolk’s Police and Crime Plan, and it is satisfying that our detection rates for drug offences are improving as a result of the strategies we are adopting.”
One tactic which has proved successful is the use of the law around detention of suspects using Section 152 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.
It has led to police being able to hold them for a longer period in the hope they will produce the drugs they are believed to be concealing.
Supt Pepper said: “This business lost a lot of drugs through us using Section 152 and that has hurt them.
“We started to see a trend of individuals who were concealing drugs internally. We would arrest them. If they declined intimate searches or produced the drugs voluntarily it was still a health risk for them.
“CID started to look at how we could use existing legislation innovatively to hold suspect drug dealers longer.
“It’s been really successful, but we don’t consider the use of this legislation lightly.
“You detain someone because you obviously believe they are concealing something.
“Throughout their time in custody individuals have access to health workers. They are provided with meals, drinks, etc.
“Their behaviour is assessed, including their consumption of food and drink. They are really well looked after as we assess them. We constantly remind them of the health risks they are putting themselves under.
“It is not right that individuals are dealing drugs and carrying them in this way, and we are going to tackle it in whatever way we can.
“This is not the normal coffee-time conversation of genteel company, but it is right to raise this issue.
“Drugs are affecting our community, some of whom do not feel they have an adequate voice.
“They now do. We, as a community, can take some steps to reducing the demand for Class A drugs and slowing it down.
“If you are a dealer you are going to go to a place and market your product in a way that maximises your profit margin with the least amount of effort.
“If you haven’t got the demand, you go out of business.
“They are very clever individuals and that’s what this is – a business. At the same time they are peddling misery.”
At one stage dealers from out of town often took over the properties of the vulnerable, by using drugs or coercion.
Among the areas blighted in Ipswich were Birkfield Drive, Chesterton Close, Grimwade Street, Titan Court, Gippeswyk Park, Lattice Avenue, Maritime Court, Smart Street, Burrell, Road, Bramford Lane and Cumberland Street.
Enforcement efforts subsequently drove them out of properties and into open spaces where they plied their trade from makeshift dens in parks.