COMMUNITIES are demanding police and authorities get to grips with Weymouth’s drug problems which are blighting the resort.

Reports of dealers openly selling their wares and users taking substances in full public view is prompting people to ask: ‘Where are the police and why aren’t they doing anything?’

There have been complaints of open drug use in the town centre shopping streets, on the seafront, in public toilets, at the railway station, in public gardens and other beauty spots.

Not only is this a concern for residents, it is also affecting businesses and the resort’s holiday image.

Drug issues in the town are not new – the Echo has highlighted issues around hard drug use such as heroin, including reports of needles being discarded in public areas, below.

Dorset Echo:

We reported last week how almost half the needles and sharps which passed through a national recycling facility had been traced back to Dorset.

The Echo has also reported calls by a think-tank for a professionally supervised ‘drug consumption room’ to be provided in Weymouth where addicts can take heroin safely in an effort to reduce the amount of drug-related deaths.

But the openness of drug use on the streets has prompted renewed calls for action to tackle the problem.

Danny Whyte, who runs a popular local Facebook group which monitors community issues relating to the borough council, WeyPortCCOS, has written to Dorset Police in response to regular complaints by members about drug use in the town.

In his letter, he has listed problem areas and included pictures of people claimed to be using and dealing drugs.

Mr Whyte asks police if there is a strategy for dealing with the issue, and calls for a greater police presence in the area including regular foot patrols.

Mr Whyte told the Echo: “We feel beleaguered, isolated and ignored by the total lack of police response to our calls for help.

“Have we just been abandoned by the constabulary who were once our mainstay for security and are we now just left to hide behind frightened doors?”

One member of the group feels that something needs to be done alongside helping to those with a drug habit.

Sue Hogben said: “Yes these people need help, but surely when it’s got to the stage that they deal and use drugs quite blatantly in front of men, women and children going about their everyday lives, then something has to be done.”

The owner of a business in the town centre, who didn’t want to be named, said she closes her shop early because drug users congregate on the street outside.

She said: “I don’t like staying here alone, so I go when the business across the road finishes for the day.”

Jason Williams, manager of the adult shop near the train station, said he has considered installing CCTV to cover the area opposite where people congregate.

He says he has seen people taking drugs in the vicinity and there have been times when people have tried to steal from his shop.

He said: “It’s not great for business and it does have a knock-on effect.

“My colleague had to lock the door once because she personally felt threatened – and she is a bouncer.

“Last summer was the peak, this summer will either be make or break for us.”

Paul Farwell, of the nearby Clifton Hotel and Railway Tavern pub, said: “My guests are constantly looking out on the drug problem at the station.

“They lay outside on the pavement and it puts customers off.

“There was one family who I had to refund the money before they even walked in the door, due to a young boy being too petrified to get out the car.”

Another areas said to be frequented by drug users is Radipole Park and Gardens and chairman of the local Friends group, Mike Goulden, said police had responded to complaints.

He said: “We have had reports of people in the park and around the garden area doing drugs and drug dealing.

“Since this was reported, areas such as large bushes have been removed to remove the areas where the dealing took place.

“The community officers have been fantastic when we have contacted them, calling on residents to report everything that they see.

“We have put up a notice in the noticeboard with the number for people to call should they see something suspicious.”

Local councillors say they are aware of the issues.

Cllr Tia Roos said: “It’s understandable that people are frustrated, however the police are overstretched.

“The problem is not just in Weymouth but across the whole nation.

“Residents need to bear with, as it takes time for the council and the police’s implemented actions to work.”

Community spokesman for the borough council Cllr Francis Drake said: “We share public concern about drug dealing and drug use in the open and behind closed doors.

“The council is working with its partners, including Dorset Police, to tackle this issue as best we can.

“But cuts to public funding do not help.”

Cllr Steve Butler, Dorset County Council Cabinet member for safeguarding said: “Public Health Dorset is working closely with a range of local organisations, including the borough council, Dorset Police, Dorset Waste Partnership and Reach drug and alcohol services to reduce the impact of substance misuse on the local community, particularly in relation to public drug use and drug-related litter.”

Dorset Echo:

OPERATION: Police on a drugs raid

POLICE say the drug problem is a priority – but arresting addicts is not going to solve long term issues.

Officers may not respond to every complaint, but reports and other intelligence help the force build a wider picture so they can target dealers.

Enforcement options range from verbal or written warnings, dispersing people from an area, and issuing notices that can stop a person doing something anti-social in an area for up to six months. There has also been a number of Criminal Behaviour Orders issued.

Weymouth & Portland neighbourhood inspector Steve Yeoman said: "Tackling drug misuse and dealing is a priority for Dorset Police and we fully understand how it impacts on the community, but this issue is not just unique to Weymouth.

"Some residents who report drug misuse and dealing may believe we take no action, but not all reports warrant an immediate police response.

"I want to reassure the public that we use all reports of drug misuse and dealing to gain an intelligence picture and gather necessary evidence to target dealers and safeguard vulnerable people.

"This can be seen through the drug warrants we have carried out, arrests and convictions that we have secured.

"However, solving this issue does not just involve Dorset Police. It requires a wide range of agencies working in partnership.

"Simply arresting drug addicts is not going to solve the issue in the long term.

"Many of these people do have deep-lying problems that need addressing and that is why we want to signpost them to support agencies in order to help them to improve their ways.

"We do have enforcement options to deal with those who refuse to accept help.

"I would ask that anyone who sees drug misuse or dealing to please contact Dorset Police to report it.

"This can be done by either calling 101, via email or online at"

REACH Drug & Alcohol Services offers support for people who want to address their drug and alcohol use in Weymouth and Dorset.

It is a partnership between EDP Drug & Alcohol Services, Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust and Essential Drug and Alcohol Services (EDAS).

Sarah Hilliard, deputy service manager at Reach, said: “There are wide ranging effects of drugs and alcohol that impact on the individual, their friends, families and co-workers as well as the community.

“The impact of use is as unique and individual as the person using alcohol and/or drugs with people from all walks of life being affected. Reach believes that people can and do make remarkable changes and as such provide a confidential, personalised support service for all those affected, as well as those concerned about a friend, colleague or family member.”

For more information call 0800 043 4656.

There are other services operating locally which support vulnerable people, including those who have drug problems.

These include The Lantern Trust in Weymouth, which provides services and benefits advice, Julian House which helps the homeless, and the recently-launched Bus Shelter Dorset scheme helping people off the streets locally.

COMMUNITY groups have been working hard to tackle issues associated with drug use.

Concerns about drug abuse and dealing in the community – including dumped needles – led to the Westham Community Group devising a reporting scheme for residents.

The group came up with a poster initiative promoting the ways residents can contact police and other authorities to report drug issues.

The ‘No drugs-Act Now’ campaign was led by Cllr Christine James, community development officer Julie Hursthouse, and resident Andreas Scheffler, who sadly passed away on January 2 this year.

Dorset Echo:

CAMPAIGN: Cllr Christine James with the late Andreas Scheffler

The poster initiative, giving residents clear information on where to report issues, saw some positive results in the first few months with police being passed information and arrests being made.

It has also led to other groups coming up with their own leaflets and posters.

Cllr Ryan Hope, member of the Westham Community Group, said: “Westham took a lead in the area and said enough is enough.

“Information provided by the public has led to arrests and is being considered when police plan initiatives.”

“We will aim to continue the hard work of Andreas and continue working with the police to crack down on drugs in the area.”