Police have been working with partners and the community to crack down on drug dealing in Waltham Abbey.
Over the last few months Essex Police have been investigating issues involving a small minority of people involved in selling drugs and taking advantage of vulnerable adults and children. This has also been linked to anti-social behaviour and assaults.
Officers have been carrying out extra patrols in areas affected by this and targeting those suspected of being involved.
Some of the results include:
A 16-year-old boy, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, has been charged with possession of cannabis, possession of cocaine, two counts of affray, and two counts of possession of a knife blade or sharp pointed article in a public place. He is currently going through the courts.
A 17-year-old boy, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, has been charged with two counts of being concerned in the supply of drugs, two counts of affray, and possession of a knife blade or sharp pointed article in a public place. He is also currently going through the courts.
A 47-year-old woman and a 16-year-old boy are currently on bail on suspicion of drugs offences.
The Epping Forest District Police Community Safety Team has also supported Epping Forest District Council in securing closure orders for two properties in Caneland Court and one in Amesbury. Magistrates granted the orders after a number of incidents associated with drug dealing.
It means no-one other than the registered tenant and authorised staff from Epping Forest District Council and Essex Police can enter the properties.
Police have also been working with the council and other partners to raise awareness about issues such as cuckooing and drug dealing. The aim is to help residents, businesses and everyone working in communities to spot the signs of someone being exploited and to know who to contact if they are worried about someone or have seen drug dealing taking place.
Amanda Ridgwell, chairperson of Ninefields Residents Association, said: “In general the incidents of drug dealing that we are hearing about as a residents association seem to have decreased.
“I do believe that people are starting to feel safer in the Hillhouse area when out with their children.
“I am hearing less regarding people feeling intimidated.
“Ninefields hasn’t had a residents association since 2016, but the new residents association formed in 2020 has been proactive in building relationships with Essex Police and Epping Forest District Council.
“We are aware that there are still issues of concern for residents and will continue to work with the agencies to address these.
“We have lines of communication with both Essex Police and Epping Forest District Council, and the residents association will continue to support the reporting of issues.
“The committee are happy to help advise local residents on how to make these reports.”
District commander Chief Inspector Ant Alcock said: “We are determined to drive out drug dealers from our communities because the supply of illegal drugs is closely linked with violence, exploitation of children and vulnerable adults, anti-social behaviour and crimes such as burglary and theft.
“It also affects the quality of life for the majority of law-abiding residents who live in areas where dealers operate.
“Our community policing teams and officers from specialist teams such as Operation Raptor and Disruptor, have been working tirelessly to tackle these issues, including arresting offenders and making sure vulnerable people are kept safe.
“It’s not something enforcement alone can solve, which is why working with the council, charities, schools and other organisations is vital to educate young people especially about the dangers of drugs gangs and to help people get out of situations and lifestyles that put them at risk.
“Community support is also really important, and I want to thank residents for coming forward and providing information because it really does help us catch offenders and keep victims safe.
“We also consistently review our patrol plans so that we can then focus attention on areas where we have information to suggest there may be issues.”
Councillor Aniket Patel, cabinet member for community at Epping Forest District Council, said: “We fully support Essex Police and the Epping Forest District Police Community Safety Team in their work to stamp out drug crime and anti-social behaviour in Waltham Abbey.
“It is important that our residents can live safely and happily in their communities and we will do everything we can to help make that happen.”
If you have concerns about drug dealing, or are worried about someone being exploited, report it online at: https://www.essex.police.uk or use the ‘Live Chat’ button to speak to an online operator between 7am-11pm.
Alternatively, you can call 101.
Information can also be given to independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or https://crimestoppers-uk.org