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Make Ipswich a pilot for new battle with crime gangs, says town's MP

PUBLISHED: 16:19 31 August 2017

Police are trying to stop drugs gangs moving into Ipswich. Picture: ARCHANT

Police are trying to stop drugs gangs moving into Ipswich. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Police in Ipswich are facing increased activity by drugs gangs in the town - and should link up with other authorities across the country.

Sandy Martin wants Ipswich to be part of a drugs gang pilot programme.Sandy Martin wants Ipswich to be part of a drugs gang pilot programme.

That’s the view of Labour MP Sandy Martin after a meeting with chief constable Gareth Wilson and Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore to discuss the growing threat of drugs gangs in the town.

He said there was talk of getting new national projects aimed at tackling the issue up and running – and that he would like to see Ipswich become one of the pilot areas.

Mr Martin said: “We are seeing increasing activity by drugs gangs who move to places like Ipswich because they see these as easier areas for them to operate in than the big cities.

“This is a really difficult problem. There are really nasty people involved in this kind of thing. They are turning people into addicts and using them as couriers to move drugs to their clients.

“We are seeing them using children as young as 14 or 15 as couriers and getting them addicted to drugs to get them to sell on our streets.

“This is an issue that needs a multi-agency approach, it is a child-protection issue as well as a criminal issue, and if there is a national pilot scheme I would like to see Ipswich taking part in that.”

Mr Martin felt that the chief constable and PCC were sympathetic to this approach.

Mr Passmore said they recognised this was an issue that extended beyond Suffolk and there was a need for co-ordination with other bodies.

He would want to know more about any pilot scheme before committing Suffolk to becoming part of it – but was not opposed to the idea in principal.

He said: “We certainly need to work with other bodies like social services when there are young children involved. And with other police – especially the British Transport Police because a lot of these people use the trains to get their drugs out to places like Ipswich.”

A new study into gang crime in the Ipswich area is due to be published by the University of Suffolk at the start of September – both Mr Martin and the police believe this will give a strong insight into the problem.

But the MP accepted there was a lot to be done. He said: “This is not a subject with any easy fixes.”

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