Clampdown in Exmouth sees drop in antisocial behaviour

PUBLISHED: 06:30 06 October 2015

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Police have successfully clamped down on antisocial behaviour and shoplifting in Exmouth’s town centre.

The crime crackdown comes after months of work by Exmouth’s neighbourhood police team after scores of so-called ‘legal high’ users from across Devon and beyond descended on the town to buy their fix from The Strand Hush shop after similar branches in Exeter and Taunton stopped selling such items, or closed.

Police said they had worked closely with the Hush shop and other agencies, in tackling issues linked to legal high users, which included intimidating behaviour and shoplifting.

PCSO Colin Balch said: “We had to deal with the influx of people and establish a rapport with them.

“What they were doing, taking legal highs, wasn’t illegal. We are not talking about 14 or 15-year-olds; we are talking about adults.

“We were met with an increase in aggression. A lot of them coming down to Exmouth came from cities where they have got a different way of dealing with police officers.”

PCSO Malcolm Maguire said: “We drafted in PCSOs from other areas to come into the town to spend more time in The Strand, to be more visible.”

He added: “The shop was very proactive. They wouldn’t sell to people who had caused trouble in the past.”

Extra officers were drafted in to patrol Exmouth in a high-profile drive to maintain order and carry out stop checks.

Neighbourhood PCSOs Colin Balch and Malcolm Maguire said ‘dozens’ of people were arriving daily from across Devon and Somerset to buy legal highs from the Exmouth shop.

The officers said the visitors often arrived early, loitered in the town waiting for the shop to open, intimidating staff as they opened their stores.

Police said the problems peaked in February then increased again through the summer.

Officers said they noticed a ‘general decrease’ in people visiting Exmouth to buy legal highs after the Hush shop stopped selling them.

Exmouth’s neighbourhood team said the ‘proactive’ move by the shop resulted in fewer incidents of antisocial behaviour around The Strand.

There was also a reduction in shoplifting in the town centre by up to three incidents a day, police said.

The Journal contacted the Exeter Hush Head shop manager, who declined to comment.

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