Leeds police focus on growing problem with spice dealing and use in city centre

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Leeds city centre officers carried out a week of action designed to tackle spice dealing and use as they prepare for the launch of a new neighbourhood policing model.

Inspector Andy Berriman, of City Neighbourhood Policing Team, said there was an increasing issue around use of the drug, particularly among beggars and rough sleepers.

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“It’s been a focus on dealing with that problem from a support perspective with the partners,” he said. “We keep saying that nobody needs to be sleeping on the streets because there’s 24/7 help.”

He said people giving cash to beggars might mean well but this would not address their often complex needs.

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“All it’s doing really is keeping them in the cycle of what they’re doing, whether it’s alcohol or drugs,” he said. “What we’re trying to do as partnership is get them out of that lifestyle and help them.”

The activity culminated on Friday with PCSOs pairing up with the council’s street outreach team, drug and alcohol service Forward Leeds and others to talk to beggars.

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Insp Berriman said members of the public often told officers to leave beggars alone when they were actually trying to offer support into services, but enforcement did have to be used in some cases.

He added: “Not only are we looking at the people who are using spice, we’ve also got some plain clothes operations gathering evidence against those that are dealing.”