Drug-dealing by London Colney riverside blamed on lack of police presence
- Credit: Archant
Drug paraphernalia is increasingly being dumped at a popular riverside location, close to ducks and walkers, because police “aren’t doing their job”, a fed-up resident has warned.
The wellbeing of visitors and wildlife frequenting the River Colne, in the heart of London Colney, is being put at risk by drug dealers emboldened by a lack of enforcement action according to the man, who does not want to be named.
Describing himself as a ‘campaigner’ who takes pride in the village, he regularly collects used drug paraphernalia discarded near the public path at the river, where it stretches alongside Riverside and Waterside.
His recent tidy-up involved the clearing of miniature scales, a significant haul of empty, small plastic bags, most containing the remnants of cannabis, and other drug-related items.
Apart from the fact that many children play near the River Colne, the bags also pose a risk to wildlife in the area.
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The man said: “I walk my dog along the riverside. Every morning I go down there, I find a number of small plastic bags used for cannabis – all empty. The packets are scattered everywhere.
“People smoke it all the time. I have seen the small plastic bags being transferred from people’s pockets to other people’s hands; you can see the transaction taking place [in the open].
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“Drugs have been a problem in the village for years. It affects what people do in the evening – you don’t want to be challenged in an unlit place at night.
“I don’t feel that I should say anything to them, because it would be unwise. I’m too afraid to, as they will be connected to a cartel, who won’t take kindly to any intervention, so I just avert my eyes and continue walking.”
Part of the problem, he believes, is the lack of police presence in the area, as the local station closed six years ago.
The campaigner went on: “We have no protection provided by the police. This is serious [but] the police are not doing anything about it.
“Because of all the cutbacks, we have lost proper patrols in the village – they go along the main street, but not along the river itself. This river is important to us, because it’s the main leisure area for people of the village, and people fish here, or bring their children. They don’t want to walk among refuse.
“I have expressed my concern regularly, but it’s not being taken up by officials, so I have to use the local press to get the point across.
“If the police don’t contain this now, the criminality will prevail in this area. But police have said to me, ‘it’s not important; it [drug taking] goes on everywhere’.”
The man said that installing CCTV cameras in the area might help deter such behaviour, as “people are too scared to say anything”.
Apart from contacting the police about the problem, he has also lodged a complaint with St Albans MP Anne Main.
The politician has written to Herts Police, warning that the area is, “frequently and freely used as a site where illegal substances are dealt and even openly consumed.
“I believe it is vital that the trading and consumption of illegal substances in the town be prevented and the perpetrators caught.”
Mrs Main has urged the force to fully investigate the matter.
A police spokeswoman told the Herts Advertiser that while local officers and PCSO are aware of such concerns around drug use at the location, “and do often proactively patrol the area for this reason, the local PCSO has not been aware in recent weeks of any issues at the location.
“Neither has she witnessed anything suspicious while in the area or seen any drugs paraphernalia.”
The spokeswoman added: “Should offences occur they will be dealt with and if you see any suspicious activity in the area please report it to police and we will endeavour to deal with the individuals using this area.
“If you do come across any items connected with drug dealing, please do not attempt to clear them but contact the council which can remove them.”