MORE than 50 people have been arrested by a police squad set up to tackle drug dealing in Portsmouth.
The team, which is running for six months, launched in January and has seized more than £30,000 worth of class A drugs and £15,000 in cash from the streets.
Within the first two months we have disrupted numerous people who are linked to gang crime from London and want to reinforce our message that Portsmouth is a hostile place to deal drugsDetective Inspector Linda Howard
Weapons including knives, asps, a knuckle duster and imitation firearm have also been seized by police.
Dealers from London have been removed from homes of several vulnerable people in the city.
And the force said eight children and two people with mental health problems have been protected from exploitation.
Detective Inspector Linda Howard, who leads the team, said: ‘The drugs related harm team was put together to tackle drug networks causing the most harm to our local communities.
‘Within the first two months we have disrupted numerous people who are linked to gang crime from London and want to reinforce our message that Portsmouth is a hostile place to deal drugs.
‘I would urge local drug users that are being exploited by drug dealers to contact us so that we can support and safeguard against these gangs.’
Jim Pegler, force lead for drug-related harm and chief inspector for Portsmouth, said: ‘We will continue to tackle drug dealing and its associated violence in Portsmouth by disrupting drug dealers’ activities and reduce the demand for them in the city; we are determined that people who bring drugs into Portsmouth feel that they are at constant risk of being stopped, arrested and generally disrupted.
‘Drugs like crack cocaine and heroin do tremendous harm to the people whose lives are blighted by addiction.
‘The gangs that sell these drugs often exploit vulnerable people as part of their business, including using children to run drugs or by taking over the homes of vulnerable people to deal from.
‘We are sending a clear, strong message that we will identify the networks that cause the most harm and dismantle them.
‘We will be relentless in tackling people who bring this misery to Portsmouth and we will continue to work in partnership to protect vulnerable people and children.’
The force said it is encouraging addicts to contact the Recovery Hub on (023) 9229 4573 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for support services.
They offer counselling, therapy, substitute prescribing, community rehabilitation, detox and needle exchange.