Positive start for project aimed at tackling drug-related crime in Hastings

01/07/2021

A project aimed at reducing drug-related crime and protecting people from harm has seen multiple arrests in its first few months.

Project Adder was launched earlier this year by the Home Office with the aim of tackling drug-related harm and reducing drug-related deaths in five key areas across the UK.

As one of those five areas, Hastings will benefit from a share of the £148 million investment in the scheme, which will run until March 31, 2023.

Led locally by East Sussex County Council and Sussex Police, Project Adder has seen an increased focus on enforcement action against those involved in drugs production and supply, safeguarding those who are vulnerable and at risk of exploitation, and treatment and recovery for those suffering from addiction.

Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “I’m pleased that this funding and new partnership approach to increasing recovery support and tackling drug offences is already having such a positive impact.

“Helping people with their addiction, stopping exploitation and arresting those responsible, helps to break the cycle of the criminal behaviour that fuels the drug economy.

“Working with an array of local agencies, we are able to make a real difference to the safety of our local communities and I look forward to hearing more of the successes of this project in the future.”

Detective Superintendent Till Sanderson said: “Tackling drug-related harm is one of our key policing priorities in Hastings, and Project Adder is greatly supporting the work we already do in this area. While it is still early days, the results so far are extremely promising.

“We have been able to step up our efforts in offering support to drug-users, as well as increasing capacity in Neighbourhood Enforcement Teams and detectives to tackle the supply of drugs in the community.

“With such positive early results, we are confident that this project can make a real difference to the town, the lives of people currently dependent upon illicit drugs, and those exploited by drug dealers.”

The funding from Project Adder – which stands for Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement and Recovery – has enabled police to carry out additional patrols and dedicated days of action in the Hastings district to identify and take action against any drug-related activity.

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Since January, officers have arrested 33 people on suspicion of drugs supply, drugs possession or money laundering offences, and trafficking children for criminal exploitation.

Those arrested so far include:

  • A 16-year-old boy was arrested after 76 wraps of Class A drugs were found in his underwear. A 28-year-old man from Hastings was also arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs.
  • Four men were arrested following the discovery of a large cannabis factory in Hastings. Around 400 plants and cultivation equipment were seized and destroyed by police.  
  • A 23-year-old man from Hastings was arrested after being found in possession of around £900 worth of cannabis.
  • Two men from Hastings and a 16-year-old boy were arrested after plain-clothed police officers witnessed a suspected drugs deal in the town. Officers seized 54 wraps of Class A drugs and £350.
  • A 76-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs; officers seized cannabis and cocaine from his home address.
  • A 16-year-old girl from the Croydon area was arrested after police seized around 250 wraps of Class A drugs. A 43-year-old male was also arrested on suspicion of drugs supply and trafficking a child for the purpose of criminal exploitation.
  • A 33-year-old woman from Hastings was arrested after police seized 102 wraps of suspected Class A drugs.
  • A 16-year-old girl from Croydon, a 38-year-old woman and a 35-year-old man from Hastings were arrested by plain-clothed officers after they witnessed a suspected drugs deal. Around £400 of cash was seized in addition to suspected Class A and B drugs.

As well as enforcement action, an important part of Project Adder is safeguarding children and vulnerable people who are at risk of exploitation, and police have been working closely with partner agencies to ensure these people are supported and protected.

Cllr Carl Maynard, East Sussex County Council lead member for adult social care and health, said: “Drug deaths, high rates of drug use, and the antisocial and criminal behaviour it brings to Hastings are not things that can be addressed by one organisation alone.

“Project Adder gives us the opportunity to build on our partnership working and the funding has enabled us to put in place measures that will address all the issues related to drugs use, providing support for people to recover from drug addiction.”