A neglected tarantula has been rescued in dawn raids as part of a crackdown on drug use and anti-social behaviour in the North East.
Five people were arrested after police launched a series of dawn raids, with an estimated £3,000 worth of heroin seized along with a large quantity of Spice, some cannabis plants and £1,000 in cash.
The raids took place in the Byker Wall area, but officers say it is believed many of those taking the drugs were homeless and had travelled from Sunderland as well as Wallsend, Gateshead and Newcastle city centre.
Northumbria Police also supported the Newcastle City Council in the seizure of a neglected dog and pet tarantula from one property in conjunction with the RSPCA.
The raids were carried out under warrants executed by Operation Murus, which was launched this week after reports from residents in Byker, Newcastle, that needles, syringes and drug paraphernalia were being dumped in their community.
Neighbours reported to police that the materials were found in alleys, gardens and playing fields with drug users specifically travelling to the area to take drugs.
The Newcastle East Neighbourhood Policing Team has been working with Newcastle City Council to gather intelligence on those involved.
Neighbourhood Inspector Kirsty Smith, of Newcastle East NPT, said: "We received a number of complaints about drug use and the littering of paraphernalia in the Byker area and needed to act.
"This has caused huge amount of distress to local residents and families in the area and poses a real danger to public safety.
"We have worked closely with the local authority to identify the individuals involved in the drug use so that we can tackle those involved in its supply.
"By tackling those individuals we can have a real impact on the littering of needles and syringes as well as clamping down on begging and homelessness in the area.
"We will always try and offer help and support to those caught in the vicious cycle of drug use but we will not tolerate this type of anti-social behaviour.
"Residents take pride in their local communities and we will do all we can to take drugs off the streets and make these areas a safer, more secure place to live."
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC, said: “This action taken by Northumbria Police demonstrates the force’s commitment to keeping people safe and proactively targeting those dealing and taking drugs within our neighbourhoods.
“This proactive approach, and close partnership work, is essential in providing reassurance to our communities that officers are listening to concerns and that drug use and associated ASB are being taken seriously. I would like to thank all involved in this successful operation and can assure local residents that this type of action will continue.”
Cabinet Member for Regulation, Cllr Nick Kemp, said: "Anti-social behaviour can have a terrible impact on people’s lives. Seeing syringes and litter lying around is extremely disheartening and can damage the image of an area very quickly.
"The good news is that the council and the police will not tolerate it and are working closely to mount operations like Operation Murus to stop this bad behaviour and punish those behind it.
"I’d like to thank those residents who came forward and worked with the authorities. We are listening and will act to support our communities."
Some of the areas most affected by the drug use include Whickham Gardens, Hoults Yard, St Lawrence Park near to the children's play area and the stairwell of Shipley Walk.
The Byker Community Trust (BCT) were one of the main groups to report concerns around drug use to police and they have praised the action taken this week.
A spokesperson said: "We understand how anti-social behaviour can cause real misery in people’s lives and wish to send out a strong message to residents that we are working closely with Northumbria Police, Newcastle City Council and other agencies to operate a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to such behaviour.
"We understand that although only a minority of individuals commit anti-social behaviour the action of a few can have a disproportionate effect on the lives of the majority and can have a major impact on the quality of life of individuals and our communities.
"BCT continue to work with tenants and our other community partners to develop a robust, sustained approach towards tackling anti-social behaviour and to make Byker a great place to live.
"If anyone would like to get involved with us or if you have any information to share could you please contact Shan Mauritzon on 01912238780."
Residents in Byker can also report concerns around drug use, begging and anti-social behaviour by calling 101 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Police continue to work with the local authority and other partners to provide support to drug users. Information about the support networks available in our region can be found at www.talktofrank.com