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Petition calls for ‘zero tolerance’ on drug abuse in Bideford

PUBLISHED: 09:14 08 August 2014

Bideford residents are calling for a 'zero tolerance' policy on drug abuse in the town.

Bideford residents are calling for a 'zero tolerance' policy on drug abuse in the town.

Archant

More than 200 people have signed the petition to MP Geoffrey Cox demanding action against anti-social behaviour in Bideford.

MORE than 200 people have signed a petition calling for police in Bideford to adopt a ‘zero tolerance’ policy on drug and alcohol abuse.

Residents concerned about antisocial behaviour in areas such as Jubilee Square, the Quay and Richmond Park have signed the petition to MP Geoffrey Cox.

The petition states: “We want to be able to use our town without being intimidated by substance abusers or coming into contact with their used drug paraphernalia.

“We want the public toilets on the Quay to be clean and useable.

“We do not want our children exposed to the risk of needle-stick injury or witnessing unsociable behaviour.

“The older residents, a lot of whom are pedestrianised folk, want to be able to walk the streets of Bideford without fear of street battery or the trauma of being insulted and abused.”

Mr Cox has responded to the petition saying he will do all he can to make the town a safer place to live, and has discussed the issue with police Inspector Andy Brock.

He said: “I fully understand and share the concerns expressed by local people in this petition and elsewhere about anti-social behaviour and the visible presence of drugs and drug dealing on the streets of Bideford.

“Having spoken to Inspector Brock I feel confident that the right steps are being taken locally to address these problems and that further appropriate action is being taken to build a safer Bideford.”

Inspector Brock said zero tolerance was an option for police, but it needed to be given ‘careful consideration’ as it could make the situation worse.

He said it could criminalise everyone without consideration of the real problem, which could be domestic abuse or mental health issues.

“We have actually seen a reduction in reported crime and information from the public in the Quay area regarding anti-social behaviour over the last 12 months, and we have been praised at Bideford Town Council and community group meetings for the reduction in street drinking in the town,” he added.

“It would be naïve to say that we have solved anti-social behaviour and certainly many challenges still lie ahead.

“But through being part of such groups as Bideford Forum and Torridge Partnership, and our statutory connections with Bideford Town and Torridge District Council and the Bideford youth service, we are working to set standards of behaviours, attitudes and ownership within the community and provide a longer term solution for the town.”

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