Drugs scourge sweeps across Suffolk
DRUG crime in Suffolk has risen sharply over the last five years and now a quarter of offences are in the county's small towns and villages.In the last six months alone more than 1,000 incidents of drug crime have been recorded and one in four were in rural areas.
DRUG crime in Suffolk has risen sharply over the last five years and now a quarter of offences are in the county's small towns and villages.
In the last six months alone more than 1,000 incidents of drug crime have been recorded and one in four were in rural areas.
Since the year 2000, the number of drug possession cases going before the courts has almost doubled.
The figures were released as Suffolk police re-launches a drugs hotline after 10 years and kick-starts a month-long crackdown on the supply and use of Class A drugs.
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The campaign will see officers execute warrants, apply for the closure of crack houses and snatch back any of the criminals' ill-gotten gains through the courts.
But members of the public are also being asked to report anyone flaunting their money, if they suspect it may have been raised from drug dealing.
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Acting Detective Sergeant Andy Gould, from Suffolk police's Financial Investigation Unit, said: “If someone in your neighbourhood is driving a fancy car, wearing designer clothes, flashing their cash and apparently living beyond their means, and you think they might be a criminal, we want you to call and tell us.”
Detective Chief Inspector Debbie Griffiths added: “For too long communities have been sickened by the sight of drug dealers and criminals flaunting their ill-gotten gains and profiting from other people's misery.”
The statistics show the number of solved cases of drug possession has risen almost two-fold, from 880 in 2000/1 to 1,558 in 2005/6, while the detections relating to drug supply have also increased from 245 five years ago to 283.
Commonly held as a problem afflicting urban areas, figures for the six months from October 1, 2005, show 27.2% of the 1,019 recorded drug crimes in Suffolk happened in rural areas. Every major town in the county is also being blighted by offences.
DCI Griffiths said the rise in detections relating to possession and supply was not only down to increased use but also because of the higher priority it has been given.
She said: “The use of illegal drugs has a devastating affect upon the vulnerable people who become addicted to them.
“This in turn has a very destructive impact upon our communities as addicts are often forced to commit a great deal of crime to fund their habits.
“They will sometimes use premises from which to buy, sell or use their drugs, with the resultant anti-social behaviour associated with so called 'crack houses'.
“Suffolk police will not tolerate this and, with the help of information from the community, will relentlessly target these heartless criminals who cause misery for those around them.”
The Suffolk police Crackdown hotline was first introduced in June 1996. During June, officers will carry out warrants based on intelligence received and evidence gathered, as well as apply to magistrates to close crack houses.
Financial investigators will use the Proceeds of Crime Act to seize or confiscate criminals' profits and assets that have been generated by crime.
This money is put into a central Government pot and a percentage re-distributed to forces, depending on their performance. Criminals can also be pursued for money laundering.
With nearly £600,000 worth of assets and cash recovered last year in Suffolk, officers said criminals need to get the message that crime does not pay.
Anyone with any information on drug activity should call the drugs hotline on 0800 253253, Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or visit the force's website at www.suffolk.police.uk
Town Offences As percentage of total
Ipswich 333 32.7
Lowestoft 95 9.3
Bury St Edmunds 78 7.7
Felixstowe 42 4.1
Sudbury 37 3.6
Mildenhall 32 3.1
Newmarket 30 2.9
Stowmarket 24 2.4
Beccles 22 2.2
Woodbridge 18 1.8
Kesgrave 10 1.0
Leiston 7 0.7
Hadleigh 5 0.5
Halesworth 5 0.5
Eye 3 0.3
Saxmundham 1 0.1
Towns total 742 72.8
All other areas 277 27.2
Total offences 1,019