Portsmouth bid to take on key role in fight against drug gangs

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It comes after the Home Office published its Serious Violence Strategy – aimed at stopping a rise in killings, knife and gun crime.

In its 110-page report the Home Office outlined plans to develop a national centre tackling transient drug dealers.

Police bosses covering Portsmouth have confirmed they are dealing with a spike in stabbings and violence linked to out-of-town drug dealers, known as county lines.

Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, recently met with Home Office minister Nick Hurd MP and asked about the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre.

Around £3.6m is being spent over two years for the national police lead and the National Crime Agency to come up with plans for the centre.

She said: ‘In the recent strategy it was announced that a new National County Lines Coordination Centre will be set up.

‘I spoke to the minister about how Portsmouth would be an ideal location for such a centre in the south of the country.

The Home Office have recently confirmed they have over £600m to tackle serious violent crime and during the meeting I was making Portsmouth’s case to secure some of that funding.

‘Our proximity to London makes us susceptible.

‘I cannot praise Hampshire police enough for their robust and strong response.

‘Together through partnership working we are able to send a clear message that drug related activity will be pursued and we will not tolerate the harm that arises from it.

‘We have strong and well established relationships across partner agencies in the city and this puts us in a good position to tackle these crimes and lead the way nationally.’

Cllr Jones is set to meet with the minister again in Portsmouth later this month and introduce him to businesses who have been affected by addicts burgling businesses.

‘Both dwelling and non-dwelling burglaries are often committed to fund drug addictions,’ Cllr Jones added.

‘It is only when you understand why these crimes are being committed you fully appreciate what needs to be done to tackle it.’

Last year The News revealed police were monitoring around 20 networks in the area.

A senior officer is set to join the Portsmouth-based drug-related harm team in a renewed focus on the problem.

Children as young as 12 have been used as drug runners by gangs operating in Portsmouth.

It comes after Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan met with the minister at the House of Commons with Portsmouth businesses.

Cllr Jones has called for all party leaders to work together on the issue.