by robstickland on 18 July, 2018
Concern was raised by residents regarding drug use and the connected anti-social behaviour that goes with it.
In order to answer questions we invited members of the local constabulary and a representative of the district council to a surgery, which has now taken place.
You will understand that we cannot go into specifics but thought it would be useful to share the general advice given as it may help others.
The common perception appears to be, in some cases, that nothing is being done about the problems, but as was conveyed things are not always as they seem:
It may be that local residents are aware that houses in a local area are being used for illegal purposes, but how do you identify that and what give the authorities the power to act?
If a magistrate was requested to order a search warrant etc.on the strength of someone carrying a carrier bag, for instance. Would they? Would you?
In order to prove a case, firm evidence is required. So you can see that just seeing something you may think is suspicious, given yours and other residents knowledge of the area, may be passed off as a common event. That is not to say you shouldn’t report it. That one isolated incident may not produce immediate action, but may help.
Stop and search is another option but again the police have to have reasonable grounds (Misuse of drugs act):
Section 23(2) provides that if a constable has reasonable grounds to suspect that any person is in possession of a controlled drug he may detain and search him and any vehicle in which he suspects the drug may be found.
The local authorities, council representatives and community police team, in our area, meet on a regular basis to work together on local issues such as described above.
So what should we as general public do?
Any evidence of repeat behaviour that can be given would help to build up a picture, even if that event in isolation wouldn’t be sufficient. It must be stressed though that people should not in any way put themselves at risk in getting evidence of any kind, or take matters into their own hands. If it is a police matter, then the police should be left to deal with it, but you can help if safe to do so.
Breaking the law is just that.
In short, just because it is perceived that no action is being taken, doesn’t mean it isn’t. The authorities are just as anxious as residents to close down persistent drug operations, but as stated previously, sometimes all may not be how it seems.
I hope this helps…
For reference: Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2014/12/contents/enacted)
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