Is targeting drug dealing hotspots simply moving the problem around?

Providence Lane in Ipswich. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

Providence Lane in Ipswich. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH - Credit: Archant

Fears have been raised that targeting drug dealing hotspots in Ipswich might simply be moving the problem onto different streets and neighbourhoods.

However, Suffolk police have said they will “use all the legislation available to us” to tackle the root causes of the problem.

Residents such as those in Providence Lane, off Norwich Road, have revealed how dealers and their ‘customers’ congregate outside their homes, making people scared to go out - particularly after dark.

That has led to widespread calls for a greater police presence to tackle the problem of ‘county lines’, where dealers travel from London to ply their trade in Suffolk.

But some have raised fears that the dealers’ response to police tactics of disrupting drug hotspots is to simply move elsewhere - relocating the problem, rather than solving it.

Westgate ward councillor Colin Kreidewolf, who has been working with police and residents to try and resolve the problems in Providence Lane, said: “They have disrupted drug dealing in other hotspots,” highlighting Jubilee Park as one example.

“But what it does is it moves it around to another area.”

However southern area commander Supt Kerry Cutler said the force is doing all it can to prevent drug crime in the first place, for example by intervening early with young people at risk of falling into a life of crime.

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“It is only by partnership working that the root causes of drug crime and related criminality will be addressed,” she said.

“Long-term work continues with our partners to develop our response further, focusing on prevention and vulnerability.

“We conduct regular operations responding to offences linked to illegal drug activity.

“Our Youth Gang Prevention Team carries out important work concentrating on prevention and early intervention of children and young people associated with drug-related crime.

“The impact drugs has on communities is significant we will continue to use all the legislation available to us.

“The force will also continue its work with other police forces in the east to tackle drug crime as it has a wider impact that is not limited to Suffolk.

“We will continue to pursue, disrupt and arrest those people bringing criminality or anti-social behaviour, as well as constantly gathering intelligence that members of the public provide and for which we are grateful for.”