Plymouth police target street drug dealers who prey on city's revellers
STREET drug dealers who target revellers in the pub and club areas of Plymouth are being targeted by police.
Operation Zodiac has been launched by police following concerns over the number of drug-related incidents around the city's pubs and clubs, including dealers being seen plying their trade and drugged-up revellers attacking police.
Acting Sgt Paula Tucker, who is heading Operation Zodiac, said the scheme was being run alongside Operation Expound, which focuses on potential violent trouble-spots in the city's clubland on weekends.
She said officers, both in uniform and plain-clothes, were targeting specific areas of the city's evening and night time economy (ENTE) landscape.
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A recent operation focused on Sherwell Arcade and the northern part of the city centre, areas which have become synonymous with partying students.
She said: "We dealt with 14 offenders during two two-hour operations over just two days.
"It included the arrest of a 17-year-old on suspicion of possession of Ecstasy with intent to supply.
"The majority of the cases we have dealt with were cannabis use.
"We're trying to build up a picture of what is being used in the different areas of the night time economy.
"Some of it is blatant, and we will crackdown on people who use controlled substances in public.
"We're also aware of certain people hanging around outside clubs and pubs in the evening and night time economy areas, who are suspected of dealing drugs such as cannabis, Ecstasy, ketamine and bubble [mephedrone] to revellers.
"The aim of the operation is to safeguard and protect the public.
"We have had cases in other parts of the country as well as in the city where people taking controlled drugs while out at night come to serious harm and even sometimes die.
"In the past we used to have everyone smoking inside the pubs, but the smoking ban has put everyone onto the streets and we believe street dealers are using the busy pavements as a cover to do their trade.
"People's behaviour can change dramatically when they have taken controlled substances, especially if they then mix it with alcohol.
"It can make some people much more vulnerable to being victims of crime. In other cases it can make them more susceptible to commit crime.
"Earlier this month we had an incident where a man who was suspected of taking LSD violently attacked two female officers.
"Operation Zodiac is not about ruining people's fun – it's about safeguarding the public from harm and we will be carrying out further operations in the coming months."
If you have information about drug matters contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.