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Agenda item

Sussex Police - Drugs harm in Hastings

(Sarah Godley, Chief Inspector District Commander, Sussex Police)


Presentation and discussion


(Sarah Godley, Chief Inspector District Commander, Sussex Police)

Presentation attached

Sarah Godley presented an overview of drugs harm in Hastings including an overview of how Sussex Police operate locally to nationally, highlighting the ability to draw on national policing resources.

She explained the difference between County Lines and Organised Crime Group, locally known as ‘OCG Jarrow’. The biggest difference between county lines and OCG Jarrow is the commodity supplied. County lines supply crack and heroin, OCG focus on the supply of cocaine and cannabis. The business model is different between the two but both result in the exploitation of vulnerable people especially local young people.

County lines exploit vulnerable households by taking homes ‘cuckooing’ for short periods of time and deal from these temporary locations. OCG Jarrow have safe houses but don’t deal from these they just keep illegal items here.

Sarah further explained the established and Organised Crime Group operating in Hastings, advising it was sophisticated and organised and involved the importation and supply of cocaine and cannabis into the UK. The criminal activity includes the wholesale supply of drugs to other OCGs as well as street supply within Hastings and the surrounding area.

. OCG Jarrow has no competition at this time so there is little violence in Hastings however the potential for violence is high. Demand for drugs is high in Hastings so there is enough space for everyone to operate. . There was a successful campaign at the end of last year where 250 wraps of cocaine were seized from the night time economy. OCG Jarrow is operating internationally as well as locally, the imprisonment of a principal member last year has resulted in 50% of the ‘business’ being owned by a third person not based in the UK.

A local concern is that vulnerable young people are being used by the gangs who are being attracted by the financial rewards. However, once they are involved it is very hard to get out of, with gang members becoming ‘debt bonded’ to deal and supply for the group. Behind the scenes, OCGJ – exhibit a significant high level of violence to control, coerce and enforce the market share.

Sarah advised that locally, Sussex Police led by the Hastings and Rother Prevention Team are working to identify and disrupt the supply chain involved in the supply of illegal drugs.

Often cocaine users ignore what’s going on behind the scenes that results in their personal usage, increasingly ‘middle class’ users in their 20s and 30s. Sarah advised that recreational cocaine use is a huge issue for Hastings. The police have recently taken swabs of most pubs in Hastings, most tested positive for cocaine.

Sarah asked the LSP how can we collectively work together to help tackle organised crime? How can we better work together?

·         How can you help?

·         What intelligence gaps can you fill and how?

·         What educational gaps can you fill and how?

·         Are we working together as effectively as possible to protect vulnerable people?

·         How can we reduce the demand for drugs in the town?


Board Members asked what intervention was happening with regard to schools. Sarah advised that there is a Prevention Youth Officer who works with local schools, but as much of the cocaine usage is outside of the school environment, other educational/ informative messages are needed to engage 20- 30 year olds.

The Board asked what is the key to educating people in their 20’s /30’s? Do these people have prior drugs history or are they just picking it up now due to its popularity?

Caroline Evans answered that there needs to be education around the supply chain, the exploitation that results from the supply of cocaine may put people off buying/using the drug. Involve local employers make sure it is it’s on local employer’s radars.

She commented that most users don’t consider themselves to be addicts and are able to normally function and hold down jobs; however this will cause health problems later on if use continues. She continued to say that it is important to improve existing services rather than making new ones that people will have to seek out. Community projects and outreach services, include as part of everyday conversations.  These people may have a previous drugs history but may not and are new. The purity of cocaine is higher and the price is cheaper which is attracting more people to it. It doesn’t have the same side effects as heroin. Ultimately we need to reduce the demand. It has become somewhat of a status symbol like party drugs such as ecstasy were. People are buying from people they know that they don’t consider dealers and don’t think about the supply chain, if they knew more about the violence and exploitation around the supply chain then they probably wouldn’t use it.

Members spoke about the drug problems in Rye including open dealing in some specific places and school children dealing. Chief inspector Sarah Godley responded by saying that Hastings has been used as a trial licensing using a range of powers such as Child Abduction Warning Notices and Criminal Behaviour Orders, and a similar approach  will be used in Rye. They are aware of the issues in Rye and are currently doing a lot of work in the area. She also commented that they need intelligence to effectively police the issues.

Members commented that harm is being done to people in the supply and the people in use of the drugs. The drugs are illegal so the trade is being run by criminals; cannabis has been a widely used drug for a long time and cocaine appears to be going that way. Members asked if the moral argument would have traction as opposed to the enforcement and health arguments against the drug. Chief inspector Sarah Godley answered that the moral argument will have traction as the damage to humans in the supply chain is large and as they are buying from people they know who they don’t see as dealers. There is a massive black market around cocaine and is different to cannabis which is more prevalent as it can be grown in the UK. She also mentioned that investment in the PCC is important and a Bid has been put in for and extra youth officer to help protect vulnerable young people.

Members commented that the education of the out of school cohort will be very important and very difficult to achieve. An example was suggested to be the pirated video campaign which had a large campaign around it that did not really affect the sale of pirated content, members added that best practice should be drawn on to inform the approach to take with this new campaign. Chief Inspector Sarah Godley added that the police are coming from and enforcement side so need help from members around the other approaches, there needs to be a national buy in and a co-ordinated effort. Caroline Evans added that the key is that the conversation doesn’t stop here, people don’t want drugs in their area and if people keep using then they will suffer medical problems. The health effects of these drugs are not widely publicised and it is a public health issue like drinking or healthy eating.

In order to develop an effective local campaign we need behavioural insight, local expertise and ideas to create social change.


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