'I'm so frustrated' - Norfolk's police chief on battle to get drugs off streets
PUBLISHED: 14:55 23 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:11 23 July 2019
Norfolk's chief constable has spoken out about his frustration in the continued fight to get drugs off the county's streets.
Simon Bailey said the force had "thrown the kitchen sink" at tackling drugs and had many successes in making arrests.
But he told an audience at a question and answer session in Fakenham, hosted by police and crime commissioner Lorne Green, that demand was still there for illegal substances.
Mr Bailey said: "As a country, we have been fighting the war on drugs for decades and decades. The fact is demand is still there, and for me, this is the biggest issue."
He added: "We have been very successful at it. We were recently reviewed by the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre, who told us we are the best they have seen yet.
"But I am very frustrated by us arresting people every day for use of class A drugs or intent to supply them, but supply is still there because demand is there.
"This is a public health issue, and I cannot be responsible for the rehabilitation and the work with unfortunate people who become addicted, and turn to crime to fund their addiction."
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Mr Bailey said: "The money for working with these people has gone down significantly. Is it any surprise demand is still there?"
A member of the audience asked about reported cannabis use and drug crimes around Fakenham.
Mr Bailey said: "If you know about someone dealing or growing drugs, speak to your beat manager [PC Richard Dawson]. I don't want to criminalise a whole generation of young people using cannabis.
"Our focus is on tackling the supply, educating people about the risks of drugs, and protecting vulnerable people. There have been many reductions in services, which all have an impact on my officers who have to bridge the gap."
Mr Green revealed he had walked around Fakenham before the meeting with Gilly Foortse before the meeting and found a cannabis pipe.
Supt Chris Harvey reminded people of the recent bust on a cannabis factory in Lenwade.
"We are focused on cannabis, ecstasy, and the drugs young people tend to use.
"The park is a police priority area, and we are trying to be down there evey day, doing stop and searches."
Other issues which came up during the meeting included vandalism, speeding and cyber crimes.