Were the drugs raids on Thurrock pubs a waste of resources?

Editorial Comment

THERE IS something going on with Essex Police right now and we just can’t figure it out.

Over two nights in Thurrock, 120 cops, raided fifteen pubs as part of a drugs clampdown. The number of people arrested for drugs related offences: Seven.

This may well have been a very very expensive operation. It will take a Freedom of Information request to obtain the figures and we will endeavour to do so.

We cannot imagine many Chief Superintendents or ACC’s, hearing that there were only seven drug related arrests handing out commendations. Unless of course, that this wasn’t just about policing, and more to do with politics.

But you feel there is a political game being played here. That somewhere along the line, this is being used as a political chip in a game of poker with the government.

Or is somebody spending lots of money before the end of the financial year?

But if it is a political tactic then they may have handed so much ammunition to the politicians. Because we can envisage a situation, where the government may say. “Ok. Now next year, try the raids with half the officers and half the budget and see if you can arrest, now let’s not be too ambitious..eight. No, lets go wild…ten”.

Or maybe they will suggest that with only seven arrests that it shows that two dedicated cops on drug patrol once a month can do the job and the rest of you can be part of our own purge.

The police will say that they regularly go out on public reassurance days and this is the type of policing that the public want. This is what they are getting. The sticking point is…the seven arrests.

On Wednesday, there will be a meeting of the Chafford Hundred Community Forum. There the residents are incandescent at the increasing number of cruisers speeding up and down the Lakeside strip. Last month there were hundreds in attendance. If any police representative there mentions resources, the public may well state: 120/15/7.

The trouble is, operations such at these may be mounted on very limited intelligence. The days of cops off duty sitting in Thurrock pubs, getting the lowdown are long gone. Both Callan and Lonely are dead.

Indeed, this month, journalists across the county,have noted an incredible spike in witness appeals by the Essex Police press office.

Therefore, you have to throw mud against the wall. Trouble is, the mud is taxpayers money.

It also seems to be symptomatic of some muddied thinking.

Only recently an officer said that the police don’t arrest the drug dealers that you can “set your watches by” around the borough because you can arrest ten and another ten will crop up next day. So, therefore, why bother with these raids?

YT’s intelligence seems to suggest that the raids were the worst kept secret in the borough. That many people stayed away from the pubs until the coast was clear. Once the police were gone, normal service was resumed and continues to be resumed right now.

In which case, this was not a demolition of drugs in the borough but the mere papering over of the cracks.

Of course, to some, all this does is heighten the fear of crime. Last month, the police published figures that showed that Lakeside was the fifth most “crime ridden location in the country.

The General Manager of Lakeside, Paul Lanchaster was delighted that such “skewed” statistics had been published. Published in the month that a big push to attract investors to the Lakeside Town Centre plans took place.

The year began with no police present when a large fight began between Tilbury football fans and notorious members of the West Ham ICF after a Tilbury v Grays Ath match. This was followed by the four vans loads of police at the next few Grays Athletic matches when it was patently clear that Grays Ath fans were not the problem.

Needless to say, YT won’t be receiving the Queens Police Medal for asking these questions. The police are famously unburdened by self doubt but to be fair, we may have got this totally wrong but we remain loyal critical friends to the police and just feel that if this is a political game then they are going to lose and with the police losing, the residents lose and worst of all, the drug dealers may win.

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