Police Launch New Crime And Disorder Campaign In Oswestry
It was launched just over a week ago and stepped up during this weekend, with extra officers on duty to clamp down on disorder.
Special drug detecting equipment was used to forensically test for Class A drugs at pubs and clubs while a "knife arch" metal detector was used to check for weapons among customers attending Gibson's nightclub.
Officers remained on the streets well into the early hours, maintaining a high visibility to deter trouble. Squad briefings were even conducted in the town centre to emphasize the police operation. Several arrests were made but trouble was kept to a minimum.
The campaign is part of the West Mercia Police "Summer Presence" campaign targeting drug-related crime, violence and disorder in town centres.
Inspector Rik Klair, in charge of policing for Oswestry, said: "We want people to have a great time when they are in the town centre at weekends. Oswestry is a safe place to enjoy a night out and the chances of becoming a victim are low.
"However, we are aware there is a small minority who spoil it for everyone else by engaging in drug use and disorder. We are dedicated to target and reduce drug-related crime, alcohol-related violence, anti-social behaviour and protecting the vulnerable. Operation Summer Presence has been created to do exactly that."
Sergeant Tim Lever, responsible for much of the police planning, said: "I have been working closely with our partner agencies, in particular Shropshire licensing, local licensees and door staff. We are working together to ensure Oswestry town centre is a safe place for everyone.
"We want people to enjoy themselves but disorder will not be tolerated and anyone engaged in crime, disorder and drugs will be dealt with robustly. Throughout the summer months, there will be an increased police presence and officers will be adopting a zero tolerance approach."
On Saturday night, 16 extra officers were on duty, including traffic officers, special constables, Inspector Rik Klair and Chief Inspector Sarah Wagstaff, the head of Local Policing in Shropshire.
A briefing was given at The Cross at 11.15pm and eight police vehicles were strategically deployed to engage with the public and staff at licensed premises. They were also instructed to ensure the safety of anyone considered vulnerable through excessive drink.
Two men were arrested in the church yard at St Oswalds for drug and violence offences. Another man was arrested for being drunk and disorderly. The metal detecting device was again used at Gibson's with no weapons found.
During the previous weekend, officers attended all licensed premises in the town centre using new substance wipes to forensically test for illegal drugs on various surfaces. Many of the wipes showed evidence of drug taking.
Advice was also given to landlords and staff to help increase their awareness of drug use and also in identifying vulnerable people leaving their premises.
On this Saturday (July 14), one person was arrested and another five given fixed penalty fines for public order offences, one arrested for drug offences, one for criminal damage and one for assault.
Oswestry's CCTV staff supported the campaign by staying on longer to view activity in the town centre. A drugs dog is also likely to be added to the police team in the near future.