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Weymouth town centre set for "hub" to help tackle drink and drug abuse?

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Published at 10:04am 29th September 2018. (Updated at 10:17am 29th September 2018)

FRONT LINE staff dealing with Weymouth’s drug and alcohol abusers could be based in a town centre ‘hub’ – possibly in a disused shop.

The idea is being considered as one of several options to help deal with problems along the Esplanade, Marsh and Rodwell Trail.

Hub staff could include the police, community patrol officers, local council staff and the Street Pastors.

Borough council community protection manager Graham Duggan says basing the unit in the town, with agencies working together, could provide a quicker response to issues involving people who are themselves vulnerable or are displaying anti social behaviour as a result of substance abuse.

Mr Duggan’s report will be presented to a special meeting of the borough’s scrutiny and performance committee on October 4th.

It comes in response to a call from Cllr Penny McCartney to examine the council’s role in supporting people with drug and alcohol problems in the area.

“As a councillor I am getting reports of drug taking, drunken violent behaviour in the community. People are now witnessing drug taking in our car parks, parks, town centre, it’s not a hidden problem” she said, asking whether the council could improve its response.

The meeting will also be attended by the police and representatives from Public Health Dorset. It is open to the public and is due to start at 6.30pm.

Mr Duggan says that 12 in 1,000 people in the borough are drug users, compared to less than half that figure for Dorset as a whole.

The local problem of substance abuse is compounded by a group of anti-social drinkers who tend to congregate on the Esplanade.

He says there are a range of local medical and psychological services to support them with a needle exchange in place and a range of measures available to the police and community wardens when anti-social behaviour occurs.

The Lantern project, Street Pastors and Bus Shelter are also available with the charities and police working with the homelessness outreach service, Julian House.

Mr Duggan says other considerations could include additional CCTV, including at the railway station and better lighting in vulnerable areas such as the Rodwell Trail to deter drug taking and anti-social drinking.

“A number of agencies are involved in providing support to those with substance abuse issues and dealing with the consequences of their behaviour in public places. However, as the problem of substance abuse and addiction has grown, budgets in the public sector have significantly reduced both in terms of prevention; treatment and policing.

This makes it imperative that the most appropriate services are commissioned and provided and that agencies work together to maximise benefit” said Mr Duggan.

He suggests that the committee might like to assess if there are any gaps in provision, whether agencies are working effectively together and whether there are suggestions for improving support for those with substance abuse issues.

By Trevor Bevins, Local Democracy Reporter.

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