Call for urgent action on drugs in Berwick

A public meeting is to be called in an attempt to address concerns about drugs in Berwick.

Monday, 11th March 2019, 7:42 am
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Key agencies including Northumbria Police, Northumberland County Council and Bernicia Housing are to be invited, along with Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan.

Berwick Town Council decided to call the meeting after concerns were raised about drug dealing, especially on some of the estates.

Coun Karin Graham, Grove ward, said: “The county council and police have made cutbacks at a time when drugs are rife in this town and we all know it’s a huge problem.

“It’s a minority but there are people who have been in their properties for many years who are continually dealing drugs.

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“It’s not our remit. Someone has to answer why this minority is causing terror on the estates. It’s got to stop.”

Coun Hazel Bettison, Lower Spittal, added: “We don’t want to become a Blyth or an Ashington.”

Concerns were raised that multi-agency meetings, formerly coordinated by the county council, are no longer held.

“Those meetings ceased in 2018 because Northumberland County Council no longer had the resources to support them and because attendance at them was frequently falling,” explained town clerk Gareth Davies.

He said statistical evidence of a drugs issue was also needed to justify allocating resources. He revealed that in the most recent crime statistics for Berwick, from December, there were 149 recorded crimes but only one was drugs-related.

“The starting point has to be to encourage people to record all instances of crime and anti-social behaviour to get a true picture,” he said.

Coun Brian Parkin, Castle ward, said: “If they are not having these multi-agency meetings I find that concerning. It’s not just the crime statistics they need to look at; it’s evidence on social media and what people are saying. We must stress in the strongest possible terms the town needs these things to be dealt with.”