Reports circulating last week of drug users heading to Wrexham in light of a tougher stance implemented by Cheshire Police are inaccurate it has been claimed.
Following the recent Partnerships & Collaboration Scrutiny Committee, a report claimed that drug users – sensitively described as ‘junkies’ – were migrating from Chester to Wrexham due to a ‘softer’ approach to drugs in the town. As Welsh Government funding for the council’s Substance Misuse Action Fund (SMAF) is set to rise once again, to just over £1million, this gave rise to concerns over provision.
However, those involved in the Scrutiny Committee together with AM for Wrexham Lesley Griffiths have moved to appease public concerns and set the record straight.
John Gallanders, Chief Officer of AVOW pointed out “During the meeting I asked the question of whether we are finding that drug users are gravitating across the border, it was not a statement of fact.”
“I certainly did not present the solution to the problem as working with Cheshire Police, I simply pointed out that our borders lead us to look west rather than east and we might be well advised to consider any situation arising in places such as Chester.”
Gallanders went on to highlight the complexities of the issues involved and that they were being tackled in a sensible manner. He also said strongly that at no stage in the meeting were drug users referred to as ‘junkies’.
Leader of the Partnerships & Collaboration Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Hugh Jones, vehemently denied the unsubstantiated claims “There is no evidence that policies in Chester are forcing more drug users into Wrexham and at no time during the discussion did officers say there is ‘anecdotal information’ to this effect.”
He went on to reassure worried members of the public “Wrexham is seen as an exemplar in the way in which it tackles substance misuse and brings together a highly competent team of professionals.”
AM for Wrexham Lesley Griffiths has too offered reassurance to local residents “If it were true addicts viewed Wrexham as an easy option this would, of course, be a matter of great concern.”
“In Wrexham, as across Wales, our robust mix of approaches have shown significant results. Between years 2007-08 and 2010-11, the percentage of new referrals for substance abuse in Wrexham reduced by 16% and per capita drug misuse has reduced by fully 35%.”
“The Welsh Government continues to allocate more resources to the Substance Misuse Action fund (…). Residents should be reassured Wrexham is not a ‘soft touch’ on drug use and these crimes will be met with the full force of the law, where appropriate. They should also know our approach is successfully turning the tide against this blight on our communities.”
The report and comments are still published on the LeaderLive website plus other sites including ChesterFirst, Rhyl Journal, County Times ,North Wales Pioneer, North Wales Chronicle and EllesmerePortFirst.
Some comments, which have been allowed to stay up for nearly a week by The Leader, include one saying “as if we dont have enough of these dreggs we are now getting chesters outcasts aswell. i would love to inject every one of these cretins with a slow and panifull sedative and watch them die so we can be rid of them forever.”
Plus a claim is remaining published that PCSO’s are falsifying documents – “PCSO’s show that they will tolerate this and also become part of the problem by falsifying records of attendance when called out to incidents then the community won’t have any trust in or respect them. ”
There are also what appears to be spam comments on the article, with web addresses such as ‘iclothingshoeschina.org’ alongside offers for ‘Handbags,wholesale Hollister Clothing,Louis Vuitton Clothing From China‘ which may indicate the comments section is rather neglected or ignored.
The story referred to above appears to have now been pulled from the Leader’s website and associated websites within hours of our above story being published. References and links to the story have also been removed from their Twitter and Facebook pages.