THERE was a heavy police presence in Worthing town centre on Friday night as the force responded to concerns surrounding drugs within Worthing’s night time economy.
I was invited to join a team of 14 officers, including two operational dog handlers from Surrey Police, for Operation Pulsar – a passive drugs dogs operation in Worthing town centre.
Drug dealers were the main focus of the operation, however, users of illegal drugs were also targeted.
While footfall in the town was low, ten people were searched when the drugs dogs reacted after sniffing around them. Of these, two were given a cannabis warning, after being found in possession of the class B drug.
Allan Lowe, neighbourhood policing team inspector for Adur and Worthing, said:
“I think it’s important we do operations like this to make it uncomfortable for those dealing drugs to people of Worthing. Without a doubt it’s everywhere (drugs). It’s been shown tonight with the drugs we have recovered.
“For a first-time user there is a cannabis warning. We are most interested in the sellers and dealers. They do the most harm and that’s where the violence is. But possession of drugs, no matter how small the amount, is against the law.”
The idea for the operation came from a neighbourhood policing panel held before Christmas.
Sergeant Craig Burgess said young people at the meeting felt there was a drugs issue in the night-time economy in Worthing.
He told me: “This is a response to the concerns young people have raised. We want to show we will listen to young people when they have got concerns and we will respond to them and make it known that drugs won’t be tolerated in the community.
I think it’s important we do operations like this to make it uncomfortable for those dealing drugs to people of Worthing.Allan Lowe, neighbourhood policing team inspector for Adur and Worthing
“I do believe the operation was a success. We had a good number of indications by the drugs dogs resulting in people being searched. We spoke to many members of the public and door staff who appeared to be supportive. We know that a small number of people continue to use drugs, this was just one tool in tackling this problem.”
The response to the dogs, Labradors Mitzie and Sam, was positive. Used because of their strong sense of smell and approachable temperament, revellers with nothing to hide were happy to let the dogs sniff around them.
One reveller who wished to remain anonymous said: “I think it’s a good idea. It’s not intimidating. If you had a German Shepherd you might think that. I know there’s a big drugs problem in Worthing at the moment, especially around here (Rowlands Road). Since I was younger it’s gone a bit wild.”
However, another said he understood why the dogs were used but felt the stop searches were demeaning.
Later in the evening, I spoke with doorman Vino Vinojan at Bar Release in Chatsworth Road and asked him what his take on the operation was.
Mr Vinojan said: “It’s very nice to have the dogs out. It’s very proactive trying to get the drug dealers and people who carry drugs. I’m all for it and so are the door staff. We work with the police to try and catch these people.
“It’s very calm (drugs in Worthing). We don’t see that many but then again you don’t know who’s coming into the town.”
The operation finished shortly before midnight.