Rural Suffolk warned of drugs threat

DRUG squad detectives are fighting an escalating war against dealers in urban and rural areas of Suffolk, with the level of crack cocaine activity reaching new levels.

By Danielle Nuttall

DRUG squad detectives are fighting an escalating war against dealers in urban and rural areas of Suffolk, with the level of crack cocaine activity reaching new levels.

The cost of Class A drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine has plummeted in the county, according to a drug counselling group, which means supply is on the increase.

Police admit they are worried about the problem and say no area of Suffolk is immune to the effect of drugs, which can result in increasing levels of violent crime, firearms offences and domestic burglaries.

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Colin Langham-Fitt, assistant chief constable, said: "Crack cocaine has moved from becoming an emerging problem to a growing problem throughout Suffolk.

"You would not have to travel too far in the county to experience the signs of crack cocaine starting to develop which is very worrying.

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"With crack cocaine cases comes the inquisitive crime, and also violent crime where people try and dominate the market.

"It's predominantly manifested in the urban areas but rural areas are not immune to it. Ipswich, given its population, certainly has the greatest level of presence."

The assistant chief constable said detectives had recovered firearms during drug raids in Suffolk and admitted the force's drugs and serious crimes unit was fighting a growing battle.

"Demand always exceeds supply. They have always got more tasks they have to action than they are able to do at any one time," he added.

"More often firearms are rumoured to be involved but there have been some recoveries of firearms which is always worrying.

"It's low level theft from cars and burglaries of buildings where people are trying to raise cash to fund their habits that's the most noticeable element of it."

Chip Somers, project manager of Focus drugs counselling service, based in Bury St Edmunds, said the group had noticed the availability of drugs in the county had increased, leading to lower prices for all drugs.

"Without doubt, Focus are finding that drugs are available through the whole of Suffolk both in the larger towns and rural areas," he said.

"I think for a long time there has been a misconception that somehow Suffolk has managed to remain drug free but in effect drugs have been available throughout the whole of Suffolk for a long time now.

"We have definitely more crack cocaine users in the county now. Crack cocaine is dropping in price in Suffolk, which would indicate there is a larger supply available.

"In fact all of the major Class A drugs are dropping in price which implies there is a bigger demand."

Mr Somers said in the past Suffolk had "deluded" itself that it could beat the drug problem but now needed to live and deal with it.

"Drugs are now becoming more entrenched in society and it's not something that is going to go away," he said.

"I have yet to hear of a drug dealer who has to do any extensive marketing. We are seeing a fashionable trend through the drug world. Drugs are becoming much more entrenched in our culture."

Suffolk police said the public's help in reporting suspected drug dealers was vital and appealed for anyone with information to contact the force.

"I would want to assure them we recognise street dealing and activities of people going backwards and forwards to cocaine houses does spoil people's lives," said Mr Langham-Fitt.

"It makes them frightened to live in their houses and they can speak to us in confidence and be assured we will action it and retain their anonymity.

"The drugs scene is very complicated and one where we work hard to study and understand."

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