Worthing police chief: violent drug gangs are ‘not getting a foothold’ in our town

Chief Inspector Miles Ockwell serves as district commander for Adur, Worthing and Horsham. He spoke to our crime editor about the fight against drug dealers on our streets
Chief Inspector Miles Ockwell serves as district commander for Adur, Worthing and Horsham. He spoke to our crime editor about the fight against drug dealers on our streets

Violent crime on the streets of Worthing continues to fall thanks to the hard work of our police officers.

Targeted raids and sustained pressure have struck a harsh blow against the big city gangs intent on peddling cocaine in our seaside town.

Chief Inspector Miles Ockwell hailed the recent successes and praised the hard work of his staff to crack down on cuckooing – a harrowing tactic by which drug dealers take over the homes of vulnerable people.

He said: “We are conducting daily welfare checks of people who we believed may be being cuckooed and ensuring safeguarding actions are taken where required.

“I think we’ve gone from a position where we didn’t even know where it was happening to finding out very quickly addresses that are being cuckooed and we’ve got very clear defined processes now that define how we deal with it.

“No one knows their neighbours like the public and we are urging everyone to aid us with our proactive policing and help us tackle this issue.”

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Speaking exclusively to this newspaper, Ch Insp Ockwell said that while these welfare checks on vulnerable people in the community might not always lead to criminals going before the courts, it nonetheless contributes to creating a Worthing where drug dealers cannot hide.

Like almost every other town in the country, Worthing has been affected by the growing national trend of ‘county line’ dealing.

This is an emerging tactic by which violent drug dealers from big city gangs ferry drugs into coastal towns like Worthing.

Using cuckooing they establish a base and then operate a dedicated drugs phone or ‘line’ to run their enterprise.

However Ch Insp Ockwell said police continue to make solid progress against county lines in Worthing and Adur.

He said: “What you are seeing certainly in Worthing is a reduction in that high level of violence related to drug dealing.

“Eighteen months ago we were seeing quite a lot of serious violent crime related to drug. I could quite clearly link a lot of the significant events to county line drug dealing.

“Now you barely see any. I think part of that is because we’ve managed to prevent these criminals from getting a foothold in the town, they’ve not got that base.”

Police do not work alone in this fight, however.

Ch Insp Ockwell – who serves as district commander for Adur, Worthing and Horsham – added that this does not mean drug dealers have gone away.

“I don’t think at all that the threat from county line drug dealing has gone.

“We’re still really focused on the threat of county lines to Worthing and I think we’ve been successful in reducing drug-related violence.

“But we’re still very alive to the risk, particularly to young people and other vulnerable people it presents in the town and we’re focussing on dealing with that.”

To report concerns about drug dealing call 101 or visit the police website. In an emergency always call 999.

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