Concern in the Community of Illegal Actions (a few points to bear in mind)

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?

  • A person, or persons entering a house carrying a carrier bag is just that, for instance.
  • A car stopping on a corner and talking to persons standing there, again is just that.
  • A person/persons entering a house and not coming back out for maybe days, means they would be classed as a lodger and that generally doesn’t have any further implications, viewed in isolation.
  • A person lifting up drain covers etc is again just that.
  • Most of us use carrier bags and lots of people have lodgers.
  • In isolation these things don’t really prove a lot.

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.

  • If you are witnessing a crime in progress then dial 999. A response team will then be made aware and act accordingly.
  • If you have reason to believe, or evidence that something happened, or to log an event (something suspicious) then dial 101, or register your information via the forces website (This is the suggested way as it will then be routed to the local community police teams and logged. If the 101 team think it should be a 999 they will take appropriate action).
  • You can also email the local community teams, if you have the relevant emails, but this may not be handled immediately due to shifts, or workload etc. So 101 or website would be preferable.

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 (




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