Officers, supported by 31 specialists and 14 vehicles from Merseyside Police, carried out a high-profile operation over two days in Torquay and Teignmouth last week. Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

Alison Hernandez: It’s time Torbay had the resources it needs to clear up drug abuse

Alison Hernandez

You know the streets where you grew up like nowhere else on earth.

For me, the place I understand the best will be Torquay. Over the decades I must have walked virtually every street of the town.

I’ve worked here, studied here, campaigned here and socialised here. I know its great bits and its not so great bits.

Without a doubt the best thing about South Devon is the people.

Perhaps it is the fact that they are used to welcoming visitors that makes them so warm and hospitable. And it is those people that have been let down in the past by what I regard as too soft an approach to drugs.

Yes, there are addicts in our community who want to get clean and desperately need our help to do so.

I do not think though that the vast majority of us should have to tolerate the smell of cannabis, drugs litter, violence and anti-social behaviour that goes alongside the illegal sale of drugs and that unfortunately Torquay has seen far too much of.

The Bay’s potential is too great and too many livelihoods are at stake for us to turn the other cheek to this issue.

We still have a thriving tourism sector, if too many visitors have an unpleasant experience, we risk putting off visitors to our naturally inspiring coastline and damaging that industry and diminishing local residents’ confidence in authority through what looks like a lack of action.

We also have a moral duty, I believe, to tackle the dealers who profit from others’ misery.

From my point of view, this means working with the NHS and local authorities to ensure high-quality services are accessible to those who want to get off drugs.

It also means ensuring that the police have the political approval and resources needed to enforce the law robustly.

Last week, we saw local officers, supported by 31 specialists and 14 vehicles from Merseyside Police, carry out a high-profile operation over two days in Torquay and Teignmouth, arresting 40 suspects and taking dangerous weapons and drugs out of circulation.

Much more like this is in the pipeline.

Before the Liverpool visit, Op Hundred had significantly increased the visibility of Devon and Cornwall Police officers, who have been aided by a significant uplift in officer numbers.

This financial year alone Torbay has had 15 more patrol officers responding to 999 calls added to its ranks and Torquay’s neighbourhood policing team has a further four more posts, this benefits all of Torbay as it provides resilience and allows opportunities to deliver operations and work in all three towns.

I have made £200,000 available to start to tackle drugs and antisocial behaviour in the Bay and, in partnership with the council, have just applied for a further £750,000 from the Government’s Safer Streets fund for Torquay, Paignton and Brixham.

It is vital that all our communities have the resources and support they need to become happier and healthier places to live, work and visit.

I have been working around the force area on these projects.

Now it’s Torbay’s turn, and this time it’s personal.

Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez
Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez