Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 16°C

min temp: 9°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Poll: Gangs of London drug dealers to blame as serious drug offences double in Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket

18:30 31 March 2014

Gangs of drug dealers from London are increasingly using west Suffolk as their base according to one leading police officer, as new figures for the region showed a drastic spike in serious drug offences.


Crimes in Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket almost doubled last year according to figures obtained by the EADT via a Freedom of Information request, with especially sharp rises in arrests for offences linked to Class A drugs.

Chip Somers, founder of Bury-based rehabilitation charity Focus 12, said police and other bodies in the public sector are not tackling the problem cohesively and were “turning a blind eye” to certain drugs.

But Chief Inspector Tonya Antonis, policing commander for St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath, said police were working with partners to address the issue, but dealers from outside the area were becoming a much larger problem.

She said: “You have on the one hand your local people, local criminals engaged in that activity, using drugs and dealing in drugs local to that area.

“You have another aspect, predominantly from the metropolitan areas, coming up to areas such as Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket and dealing drugs in this area.

“The reason we’ve seen that figure in the past 12 to 18 months is we’ve seen an increase in that aspect, of people from that area coming into Bury and Newmarket and dealing drugs.”

Recently, four people from London were arrested in The Vinefields, Bury – two men, aged 23 and 21, on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and money-laundering; a 16-year-old boy on suspicion of possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply, and a 15-year-old boy on suspicion of money-laundering.

Mr Somers said the rise in drug offences “came as no surprise”, and pointed to Newmarket and Haverhill in particular as two places where the supply of drugs was rife.

He said: “We are seeing a lot more people trying a lot more different drugs. Everything we are seeing over the last two or three years points to an increase in what people are doing.”

Mr Somers often found that people on methadone, which is prescribed by doctors to treat recovering heroin addicts, were on other drugs, and that drug services were “turning a blind eye to anything other than opiates”.

He added: “I don’t think there’s any kind of connection between the medical service, the drug service or the police, which there used to be years ago – you’ve therefore got everybody hearing the same message.

“That doesn’t exist any longer, and I’d like to see a much more cohesive approach so that everyone is on the same page.

“For a long time people in Suffolk have thought themselves to be slightly removed from the drug problems they hear about nationally, when actually they are just as intrusive and critical as they are elsewhere.”

Chief Insp Antonis said Mr Somers’ comments were “disappointing”, and pointed to measures the police had taken along with housing and public health officials to tackle the root cause in the past 18 months.

These include rehousing those caught up in drug abuse, conducting joint visits with health workers and drug testing those in custody who have been arrested for certain offences, with anyone testing positive being referred to a drug worker.

“Underneath all this we have some very vulnerable users of drugs,” she added.

“While I accept some people may choose it as a lifestyle, there are some very vulnerable people using drugs and it’s how we support them to break the habit.”

She also said the spread of drug dealers from big cities was not unique locally, adding: “You’ll get drug dealers who run out of places to deal in London, so will come to outlying counties - not just Suffolk - because they probably have less trouble competing against dealers. I’d be fairly comfortable in saying other forces are finding that.

“There perhaps is a lack of awareness, but putting it into perspective it’s not a huge problem compared to some other counties.

“Because it’s not a big problem and seems to be quite focussed on specific areas, it’s probably not something people would recognise as much.”

Offences in Bury

2011 - 73

2012 - 72

2013 - 135

Offences in Newmarket

2011 - 10

2012 - 32

2013 - 71



Highpoint Prison in Stradishall, Suffolk.

A BB gun and ammunition were found by an inmate at a prison in Suffolk.

Essex fire service was sent to the incident

Firefighters were called to rescue a man who became stuck on the roof of his house after nailing his hand to the rafters.

Sharon Halls and Daniel Compton's baby, Evie

The parents of baby Evie born prematurely in the Dominican Republic have had confirmation they will get medical costs – and more – reimbursed by their insurance company.

The Great House in Lavenham has been awarded three rossetts from the AA. Left to right, Martine and Regis Crepy, Enrique Bilbault, Swann Auffray, David Castro, Guillavme Dericq.

An award-winning Suffolk restaurant has officially been recognised as one of the best in the country.

Emergency services at the scene of the crash in Needham Market

Emergency services were called to a collision in High Street, Needham Market this afternoon.

East Anglian Air Ambulance

A chimney sweeper remains in a critical condition with spinal injuries after falling from a roof in Combs yesterday.

Will  Ian Cumming be crowned Bake Off Champion 2015 tonight?

Tonight marks the grand final of the Great British Bake Off and viewers will watch as Ian Cumming, Nadiya Hussain and Tamal Ray battle it out for the Bake Off crown.

Hattie Lewis holding 'Mr Ted' 
He went missing on Wednesday, September 30

A desperate mum is calling on the residents of Sudbury to help her find a missing teddy bear belonging to her four-year-old daughter.

Call for tightening of UK border controls

Suffolk’s “horrified” Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has demanded EU border control reforms after a convicted paedophile banned from the UK was jailed again for returning to work with teenagers.

Tesco Copdock, Ipswich

Pest control was called to an Ipswich supermarket this morning after staff were seen “frantically” chasing a mouse around the restaurant.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages