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Drug Den Danger on the Riverbank

The brilliant volunteers of Woodston proved that together we can make our environment a better place, with a two hour blitz on the south riverbank last Saturday morning.  Working with the probation service’s Community Payback team, we cleared a huge pile of rubbish, collecting up piles of cans, clothes and bedding, food wrappers and glass.  Well done to everyone.


However, we also found a shocking amount of drug paraphernalia in the undergrowth.  Uncapped dirty needles, syringes, drug spoons and over 70 needle disposal boxes, the majority left empty!  We have a problem of drink and drug use just off a well-used public footpath.


We carefully collected up what was easy to see and safely disposed of the needles in the correct sharps bins, but what is clear is the drug users here are completely irresponsible.  There are genuine public health risks from needle-stick and blood borne diseases.  I am now asking public health, the Prevention and Enforcement Service and providers of support to drug addicts and the homeless to get on top of this.  I am also asking for the landowners to do some clearance work so that these areas on the riverbank are no longer welcome to drug users.

It is really important to report problems on the riverbank to police via the 101 telephone system or to the Council via the My Peterborough smartphone application.  We need a response, but the Prevention and Enforcement Service needs the evidence to prioritise patrols in the area, and the drug and homeless support services to deal with the longer term problems of the users here.  Let’s make our riverside safe and clean so everyone can enjoy the green spaces we have in the city.  In the meantime, please don’t let children or dogs go into the undergrowth.


Policing in Peterborough

me at hendon

I spent a thirty-year career as a policeman, working in the East End of London, in Scotland Yard and on some national police teams too.  I have experienced some of the most extraordinarily brilliant police operations to keep people safe, but I have also seen some awful things, when preventing crime and disorder is not enough, and police have to investigate everything from isolated cases of public disorder and minor crime, up to thefts, frauds and cases of murder and mayhem.  It is every person’s duty to recognise that citizenship brings responsibilities as well as rights to each and every one of us.

In the nineteenth century Sir Robert Peel invented a citizen police force that was a curious British solution to the problem of preventing crime and arresting offenders – our police officers were working with the consent of the local people, and after a difficult start, slowly gained their trust.  Our policing model became the yardstick for policing by consent, and the envy of the world.  Even today, in our era of criticism of public organisations, and with the impact of the recent financial crisis causing difficult problems for all public services, our police are still held in high regard and command some of the highest satisfaction rates in surveys; around 2/3 of the population think the police do an excellent or good job.


We are also blessed with significantly lower crime rates in Cambridgeshire than in other areas.  In Peterborough, whilst top in the county for the most crimes per head of population each year, is still extraordinarily safe.  However, crimes do occur at the rate of around 4 a day in each ward, and that is where we need to support our local police officers to detect the crimes, collect evidence and arrest the criminals responsible.

The system of holding the police to account for their ability to meet the needs of the local population sits with the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire.

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Andy Coles
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