Police ask locals to join them in their fight against drug crime... by trimming their hedges

Police are cracking down on drug crimes in Dereham. Pictured next to the hedge on Matsell Way is PC

Police are cracking down on drug crimes in Dereham. Pictured next to the hedge on Matsell Way is PC Spencer Crane. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

The simple job of reducing the height of hedges around notorious drug dealing locations could help police in Dereham in their fight against crimes.

Police are cracking down on drug crimes in Dereham. Pictured next to the hedge on Matsell Way is PC

Police are cracking down on drug crimes in Dereham. Pictured next to the hedge on Matsell Way is PC Spencer Crane. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Fleece Meadow behind the Memorial Hall and the Recreation Ground are known to be areas where drug trading takes place.

But now the police are working with the town and district councils to improve visibility of these public areas to discourage criminal activities.

The town council has applied to Breckland Council for permission to prune some lower branches of the oak trees on Fleece Meadow and reduce the height of the perimeter hedge.

This will give the police patrols a better view of the meadow from Matsell Way.

Police are cracking down on drug crimes in Dereham. Pictured next to the hedge on Matsell Way is PC

Police are cracking down on drug crimes in Dereham. Pictured next to the hedge on Matsell Way is PC Spencer Crane. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

The application form submitted to Breckland said it is 'to improve visibility due to unauthorised activities'.

Inspector Jon Papworth, based at Dereham police station, said Operation Gravity, which was launched to target the most serious offenders involved in the dealing and the transportation of Class A drugs around the county, was still very much a priority for the force.

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And the key to successfully reducing crime was working with other agencies, he said.

'In any town there is going to be reports of drug dealing but here in Dereham our work to combat this is recognised as best practice,' he said.

Police are cracking down on drug crimes in Dereham. Pictured next to the hedge on Matsell Way is PC

Police are cracking down on drug crimes in Dereham. Pictured next to the hedge on Matsell Way is PC Spencer Crane. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

'We aim to progress reports to search warrants where we can and we had success on Friday where a warrant resulted in seizing items relating to drug dealing.

'People will deal drugs where they can but if we can reduce the opportunity by getting agencies like the town council to cut back hedges it will benefit the community.

'By putting things into place to combat even low level anti social behaviour such as cannabis misuse on the Recreation Ground we can stamp it out long term.'

He said they were also working with the town and district councils to review CCTV options. They also worked with Neighbourhood Watch teams and town pastors who run local patrols to offer advice and support in the community.

Town council clerk Tony Needham said Fleece Meadow had long been known as an area for drug trading and they were keen to work with the police to combat the issue.

'Lowering the height of the hedge will mean the police can keep a closer eye on the meadow,' he said. 'We hope it will discourage criminal activity.

'We also want to just tidy it up a bit as it is looking a bit unloved at the moment.'

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