NORTHUMBRIA Police crime commissioner Vera Baird was told drugs are undermining community confidence in South Tyneside during a visit to the borough this week.
Coun John McCabe, who represents Hebburn South for Labour, has passed information to the police over suspected drug dealers operating in the Hebburn and Jarrow area, but says he has become frustrated at what he regards as a the lack of action taken against certain individuals.
He raised his concerns when Ms Baird addressed a meeting of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee at South Shields Town Hall this week.
He said: “One of the problems that my local community faces, and it doesn’t seem to be on the agenda, is drugs. There are a lot of people in the community who use drugs.
“There are people who are benefitting from drugs, there are people making an absolute fortune out of drugs.
“Not only are they making fortunes, they are creating misery for local communities.
“In the past, in the local community I live in, the police service ruthlessly eradicated any problem with regard to that, but no longer.
“I have already heard that we are reducing police costs and we have lost a number of police officers, and I hope today that you will go away and take heed of this problem. I am speaking as a community leader.
“I could take you to one area in South Tyneside where there’s a person well-known for selling drugs, and yet people are getting away with it, week after week and month after month.
“I understand the problem with domestic violence is high on your agenda, but drugs is an equal problem because it undermines the confidence of a community.”
Ms Baird said drug-related crime had been reduced in the Northumbria Police area by one quarter and insisted the force was “getting to grips” with the problem.
She said: “I know that you contacted me in August last year with concerns about general hoodlum behaviour, and as you know I passed that on to Chief Superintendant Ian Dawes and a number of warrants have been executed.
“They have acted on information which you have given to them, which is great to hear, that’s exactly the relationship we should have with councillors. Let me reassure you that every time something is raised by you we listen, so let’s continue talking the way we are.”
Coun McCabe added: “With respect Vera, this problem with drugs, it’s like the Hydra. You take one head off and another two heads pop up.”