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Opinion: We’ve a growing problem with drugs, but don’t forget Norwich remains a fantastic place to work, live and play

PUBLISHED: 16:05 19 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:29 19 September 2018

Chapelfield Gardens. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Chapelfield Gardens. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

Regular readers of this paper or our website will know the problem of drugs and drug dealing in Norwich is one we’ve given extensive coverage to over the past two years.

Regular readers of this paper or our website will know the problem of drugs and drug dealing in Norwich is one we’ve given extensive coverage to over the past two years.

The growing issue first emerged last year when Operation Gravity was launched in response to concerns of increasing levels of violence linked to the drugs trade in the city, as well as in Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn.

At the time, thanks to previously unheard of levels of access from Norfolk Constabulary, we were able to glimpse behind the scenes of the work going on to purge problem.

We’ve looked at the reasons behind it, the growing prevalence of London dealers using Norfolk as their patch and their tactics, such as dealers picking on the young and vulnerable and making them do their dirty work.

More recently we’ve moved on to focus on Operation Granary, a new police drive launched in response to the sad fact that every time they help lock someone up, there’s someone else waiting in the wings.

We’ve not done it out of a desire to sensationalise, sell papers or gain ever more web hits, but because there can surely be few people who won’t admit the tide needs to be stemmed.

And over recent weeks the problem has begun to gain attention outside of Norfolk, with several national newspapers using Norwich as an example of how once quiet and quaint parts of the country are becoming riddled with drugs.

But I want to use this column to provide some perspective to those claims.

I wouldn’t argue against the fact our drug problem has worsened and action needs to be taken. Walk around the streets of the city and I’m sad to say many of the signs are there. Head to Chapelfield Gardens and it doesn’t take long to see where addicts head to do their deals or shoot up. Given how much I love that park it makes me sad.

The horrible by product of that is that where 12 years ago, when I first returned to the city, I would have been okay with my wife walking from the city centre to our Golden Triangle home, now I certainly wouldn’t.

But I don’t believe that would be any different if I lived in other big towns or cities in the east or even further afield. Society has changed, in some ways for the better and some ways for the worst, and we are in no way alone to be experiencing these types of issues.

And while complacency would be dangerous, it’s worth reiterating how safe both Norwich and Norfolk remain, especially when compared to the national averages.

This city has its social problems and I’ve heard many say they aren’t tackled because we won’t admit to them, but we shouldn’t forget there are a host of reasons why this remains a great place to live, work, play and bring up a family.

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