Agencies working with Weymouth's problem drink and drug users say they are tackling the issue – but admit much more needs to be done.

None were prepared to say they were winning in the efforts to help with the drug and alcohol abuse and anti-social behaviour which often occurs on the seafront, and the hidden problems across the town.

Esplanade resident Ken Whatley said that almost every evening you could see men and women dropping their trousers to urinate in the seafront shelters with passers-by being verbally abused. He said there was no evidence the problem was getting any better.

Inspector Steve Yeoman said his officers were concentrating their efforts on stopping drugs getting into the town, brought in by 'county lines' dealers.

He said that over seven days, they had seized drugs with a street value of £65,000, made 33 arrests, seized £17,000 in cash, and confiscated combat knives, crossbows and containers with noxious substances.

“I don't want to terrify the public. They operate in their own environment and the public are extremely unlikely to come across a county lines dealer,” he said.

He said that one major London-based dealer had recently been removed from Weymouth and West Dorset and that by intelligently targetting their activities, success could be achieved.

Insp Yeoman said that by disrupting their activities and seizing drugs and cash was where it hurt: “That's where we see the impact. It's a business, these people don't take drugs.”

Later in the borough council debate he told councillors that if he was given another 20 officers he could solve the problem of people bringing drugs into the area.

But he said that arresting people on the seafront who had nothing did little to solve the problem – they simply returned after a short period in custody and were likely to then re-offend.

He said that more work was being done with other agencies to help the group tackle their problems and that there was an increasing realisation that they were vulnerable and needed help.

Local GP Dr Karen Kirkham, and Will Haydock, from public health, outlined some of the NHS services which were available locally although Mr Haydock admitted that more work needed to be done to offer a completely integrated service.

Dr Kirkham said that she would like to see more effort to prevent drug and alcohol problems in the first place which could include working with schools, additional support services and work to tackle mental health problems.

Said Mr Haydock: ”There's loads of potential but we can be more efficient and we can be more effective.”

After two and a half hours on Thursday evening the borough's scrutiny and performance committee decided to look again at the issue at its November meeting with an informal, private, get together of councillors in the coming weeks.

Said committee chairman Cllr Andy Blackwood: “We need time to digest what we have heard here tonight.

“It strikes me that there is an awful lot of work going on, there are a lot of people in lots of agencies working on what is a very big problem, but the perception of the public is that we are losing the battle, it's getting worse not better.”

Rehab centre call

Weymouth's seafront group who drink and take drugs in the shelters ought to start taking responsibility for their own behaviour.

The view comes from Cllr Tia Roos, a recovery worker.

“There is a feeling that not enough is being done…I ask myself how they are made to feel responsible for their own behaviour…

“Many agencies say they are not coping with that group and it’s having a negative impact on them.”

She told the borough council scrutiny and performance committee on Thursday that it was no good brushing the issue under the carpet.

“It’s been like this since June 2017 when the Echo reported it on the front page. It doesn’t feel like anything has changed.

“Yes, there has to be compassion, but at the same time where’s their personal responsibility?

She went on to call for a local rehabilitation centre to encourage those with drug and alcohol treatment to get help in the area where they lived and had friends and families.

“They need to be given the opportunity to stay close to their families and friends when they are in recovery,” she said.