Police take proactive approach to tackle drugs menace

POLICE across the Axe Valley are tackling drug crime by proactively searching suspected users and dealers.

POLICE across the Axe Valley are tackling drug crime by proactively searching suspected users and dealers.

Axminster neighbourhood beat manager Pc Darren Herridge attributes the majority of crime in the area to drugs.

Fifteen reported crimes in Axminster last year were drug-related. But, he believes, a large proportion of the 93 theft offences recorded could also be attributed to drugs indirectly.

He said: "I would say that 95 per cent of crimes in this area are drug-related. Very few people steal for greed or because they want the goods. Most people who shoplift are doing it in order to feed their habit."

He said the drug problem was a difficult one to combat and not simply about law enforcement.

"We can never be complacent with the issue," he said. "The problem is always there, although sometimes it's less visible.

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"You can take one dealer out of the equation, only for their position to be filled by another. The problem will continue as long as there's supply and demand.

"There needs to be more focus on helping drug users to get clean and stay clean. Too often you see heroin addicts who are on a methadone prescription, but who continue to use heroin as well, which completely defeats the object.

"There are other treatments that completely negate the effects of heroin, which in my opinion would be the preferred method of treatment.

"Obviously I am not a medical professional but, when I speak to doctors and pharmacists, they are of the same opinion, that in a lot of cases methadone is just seen as a "topper" for some addicts."

Seaton police said 26 out of 327 reported crimes last year were drug related - with cannabis, amphetamines and ketamine the main drugs seized. Acting sergeant Matt Sinker said the misuse of drugs affects not only the user, but wider community- and called on residents to report incidents.

He said: "Residents need to be vigilant to the signs and symptoms, and to intervene where they suspect drug misuse."

He said signs included criminal activity, mood swings - from paranoia to depression - and health problems.

He said police acted on information provided by the community and worked with partners for long-term solutions.