POLICE have downplayed fears Gosport has an escalating drugs problem among its homeless population.
It comes amid claims gangs have been running a narcotics ring from inside a public toilet, dealing class-A drugs.
If the public are concerned about the behaviour of people who are sleeping rough we will of course look into this and work with the police and other relevant organisations to combat any issuesCouncillor Graham Burgess
Officers have today said they had ‘no concerns’ drug dealers were operating from the town’s conveniences.
But residents have said the facilities opposite the entrance to Gosport Ferry Terminal, in Hamilton Road, were being used by homeless people to take illegal substances.
Gosport resident Rosemary Lessiter, 78, claimed to have seen the activity taking place and has called for action.
The retired psychiatric nurse said: ‘The homeless situation in Gosport is scandalous. Homeless people are drifting in to Gosport because they know it’s a good place for drugs.’
But Sergeant Tracy Scrase, of Gosport’s Neighbourhood Policing Team, said the force was not aware of dealers using the public toilets.
She said: ‘We have not received any reports indicating that there is a problem relating to drug taking or dealing in public conveniences around Gosport’s town centre.
‘We are continuing to engage with the homeless community who may be seen by members of the public to use these facilities regularly, but we do not currently have concerns that this usage is related to drugs.’
She added police would continue to monitor toilets on patrols and would act on any reports of drug use.
Last year Gosport was named as one of the worst towns in the UK for homelessness, with charity Shelter claiming one in 200 were living without a home.
But Gosport Borough Council said only a handful of these were sleeping rough.
Councillor Graham Burgess, chairman of council’s community board, said the authority always supported those living on the streets, offering advice and temporary accommodation.
He added: ‘Homelessness can happen for a variety of reasons and we can provide a safe place for individuals or families if they find themselves in this situation, for example helping to find privately rented accommodation.
‘If the public are concerned about the behaviour of people who are sleeping rough we will of course look into this and work with the police and other relevant organisations to combat any issues.’
For help on homelessness, or to report an issue, call 023 9254 5476 or email firstname.lastname@example.org