Police descend on pubs as part of drugs operation in Saffron Walden
PUBLISHED: 00:14 24 August 2013 | UPDATED: 09:46 24 August 2013
POLICE swooped on pubs in Saffron Walden tonight (Friday) as part of a major operation designed to crackdown on drug use in the town.
Officers were responding to intelligence after receiving tip-offs from landlords about suspected dealing and a “growing concern” drug taking was on the increase.
Half a gram of cocaine was found in the Temeraire on the High Street. It had been discarded near the toilets when around 15 uniformed and non-uniformed officers burst into the pub along with a police sniffer dog.
CCTV footage was reviewed in an attempt to establish how the bag of Class A drugs ended up on the floor but proved inconclusive.
Other pubs focused on as part of Operation Springfair, which ran from 9-11.30pm, included The Victory, The Railway, The Old English Gentlemen and The Axe.
Word spread quickly via social media that police were in the town searching for drugs.
No arrests were made but Sergeant Tim Scott, who led the operation, believed it would act as a deterrent in the fight against drugs.
He told the Reporter: “We won’t tolerate drug use or drug dealing in any licensed premises, or indeed anywhere else. It has a direct impact on anti-social behaviour and crime – as well as public health.
“We will always continue to take action as long as we have intelligence to suggest we have drugs in this town.”
Asked whether the operation had achieved its objectives, he replied: “I’m pleased with how it has gone. We have found drugs and conducted some stop and searches.”
Sgt Scott added: “We’ve also heard via sources that word has got round, including on Facebook, so it has obviously had an impact in that respect and will act as a deterrent. That is what we want. We want word going round that we are out here.
“When we went into the Old English Gentlemen somebody shouted ‘The police are here – they’re after drugs’. So people knew quickly that we were out and about.
“It is also about reassurance to people in the community that we are doing this in response to concerns raised.”
Temporary Inspector Colin Cox said there “was not a huge drugs problem” in Saffron Walden but that police were responding to concerns raised by pub landlords, including intelligence to suggest the possible use of ketamine.
There was also an incident a few weeks back where a man in his early 20s fell unconscious after taking drugs and had to spend a night in hospital, according to police.
“I’m surprised we didn’t find lots of little personal stashes of drugs but it has sent a message out that we are prepared to go into licensed premises,” Temp Insp Cox said.
“Landlords don’t want their place to be known as somewhere with a drug problem and this operation shows we will support them if they believe there are issues.”
He added: “We will keep doing these operations to keep people on their toes. Hopefully it sends out a positive message that any kind of drug use won’t be tolerated.
“There aren’t lots of drugs in Saffron Walden but we will respond when there are concerns raised.”
For a full account of Operation Springfair, check out next week’s Saffron Walden Reporter.
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