Brighton has a significant problem with drug misuse, with the city having the highest rate of drug use for Cocaine, Ketamine, and MDMA. A study found that 20% of residents are believed to have used Cocaine, and another 10% have used MDMA. The problem is further exacerbated by drugs being seen in public spaces such as toilets and changing rooms, making the issue a public health concern. Additionally, residents in some areas of Brighton, such as Hangleton and Knoll, are too scared to report drug dealers to the authorities due to fear of retaliation. Sussex Police has taken steps to combat the problem by taking down significant county-line drug dealing gangs in Brighton and Hove, but the issue remains ongoing. Examples of Brighton’s substance within the last few months include:
The Xmas Drink Driving Crackdown Statistics
During the annual Christmas drink and drug driving crackdown, Sussex Police arrested 233 individuals in December, 49 of which were in the Brighton and Hove area. This was a 10% decrease from the previous year but higher than the number arrested the year before.
The campaign aimed to appeal to the public’s sense of shared responsibility in reducing the number of deaths and injuries on the roads. Sussex Police announced they would publish the names of those convicted to raise awareness of the issue and deter others.
Additionally, the police and crime commissioner, Katy Bourne, stated a need to increase forensic testing capacity and train more officers using roadside tests to make the roads safer for all.
Evidence Brighton Drug Epidemic Continues To Grow
Brighton is one of the biggest centres for drug misuse rates in the UK, with a study showing that the city has the highest use rate for Cocaine, Ketamine, and MDMA. Data shows that 20% of residents are believed to have used Cocaine, and another 10% have used MDMA.
This problem has been exacerbated by the discovery of drugs being left in public spaces within the city, such as toilets and changing rooms. These locations are used for the consumption of Cocaine, leaving traces of the Class-A drug exposed to the public at all times.
This issue has also affected public attractions such as the i360, Madeira Drive, Brighton Train Station, Western Esplanade, and other major destinations. In response to these reports, Brighton and Hove City Council stated that they had no power to prevent this issue and that it was a police matter. They also noted that the council regularly cleans the public toilets; however, due to the extensive number of facilities, it is only possible to give each bathroom a partially thorough clean after every usage. They already work with Sussex Police to attempt to manage drug use within the city and will continue in these efforts.
Drug Dealers terrorising their neighbours
Residents in Hangleton and Knoll, Brighton, have said they are too scared to report drug dealers to the authorities because they fear it will worsen their situation, according to Conservative councillor Dawn Barnett. Speaking at a housing management panel meeting at Hove Town Hall, Barnett said neighbours were “terrified” and had to talk to her over the phone about the “huge problems” with drug dealers at the “top of Hangleton” terrorising their neighbours. Housing official Janet Dowdell said the council’s hands were tied as court orders are needed to end tenancies and take out injunctions. Still, residents’ fears make it difficult to gather evidence.
Dowdell said, “We cannot go to court without a weight of evidence. I get why people don’t want to get up and say, ‘Yes, I’ll sign a witness statement.’
“They’re living next door to people who are drug dealing. That is the very thing that will get us in court quickly. The best evidence is a statement.
Ms Dowdell added: “We’ve had people saying, ‘I don’t want you to approach them.’ So our hands are tied. We then can’t ask people about their behaviour and issue them a warning.”
Frequent Reports of Drug Gang Take Downs
News reports of Sussex Police have taken down significant county-line drug dealing gangs in Brighton and Hove is not uncommon. The recent jailing of nine people involved in a compelling, organised conspiracy after a two-year operation by the city’s Community Investigation Team.
The group, known as the HECTOR line, was found to have been operating within Sussex and targeted young and vulnerable individuals through violence, exploitation and intimidation, employing them to carry out street dealing on their behalf. The police seized vast amounts of drugs, and dozens of people were arrested as officers from the Community Investigations Team partnered with the Metropolitan Police to disrupt the gang’s activity.
Brighton and Hove is the drug misuse death capital of South East.
According to Office for National Statistics figures, 24 people died from drug misuse in Brighton and Hove in 2019. This is a decrease from 28 deaths in 2018 but still, a “stubbornly high” figure compared to the 19 fatalities recorded five years ago. Despite the decline, 2019 marks the second year the total has fallen from a high of 37 in 2017. The figures also showed 30 “drug-related” deaths last year.
These deaths relate to poisoning from various illegal and legal drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines. The figures count deaths from drug abuse but also include those from accidents, suicides, and health complications arising from drug use. In Brighton and Hove, there were 102 deaths between 2017 and 2019, at a rate of 11.7 per 100,000 people – up from 11.3 in 2016-18. Across England, the average death rate for 2017-19 was 7.1.
Michael Garnham of Compare Rehab says government inaction is partly to blame for the record number of deaths across England and Wales and called for drug policy reform, including investment in treatment, overdose prevention sites and a review of the law to end criminal sanctions for possession offences.
Brighton puts treatment ahead of punishment.
Brighton and Hove have put drug addiction treatment ahead of punishment by targeting arrests and prosecution of heroin and crack cocaine drug users, assessing arrestees and diverting them into treatment, and providing community-based drug abuse treatment to reduce drug use and criminal behaviour.
In April 2013, the city also put forward a list of policies and services around illegal drug markets and drug use. This shows that Brighton and Hove are prioritising addiction treatment over punishment.
Brighton and Hove Recovery Services provide advice and support for adults with alcohol or drug misuse. They also support families and carers of those struggling with alcohol or drug misuse.
Treating addicts rather than criminalising them can help reduce antisocial behaviour. Research has consistently shown that community-based drug abuse treatment can reduce drug use and drug-related criminal behaviour. A study by Jennifer Doleac found that increasing access to substance abuse and mental health treatment reduces violence and property crime. Additionally, Dr Nora Volkow, the NIDA director, said that putting addicts in jail can increase their stress levels and lead to more antisocial behaviour if they do not have access to treatment. Furthermore, governmental drug policy often hurts drug users. It increases the overall use of the drug while providing treatment for addicts can reduce prison management problems as more prisoners take on treatment rather than incarceration.
Critics argue that treating drug addiction as a medical issue rather than a criminal one sends the wrong message to the public and could lead to increased drug use and addiction.
- They also argue that community-based treatment is not always effective and that some drug users may not be willing or able to seek help.
- Additionally, some argue that treating addiction as a medical issue can be costly and that the government should instead focus on preventing drug use in the first place.
- They argue that providing treatment to drug users could be seen as enabling their addiction and that harsher penalties and criminalisation can deter potential drug users.
- They also argue that treating addiction as a medical issue could lead to a lack of accountability for drug-related crimes, as individuals may not be held responsible for their actions while under the influence of drugs.
Brighton and Hove remains the South East capital for drug misuse deaths, with 24 people dying last year alone. Misuse means they involved illegal drugs or were a result of drug abuse or dependence. The figure is down from 28 deaths in 2018. However, city leaders say the figure remains “stubbornly high” compared to the 19 fatalities recorded five years ago. Despite this, 2019 marks the second year the total has fallen from a high of 37 in 2017. The Office for National Statistics figures also show 30 “drug-related” deaths last year. These deaths relate to poisoning from various illegal and legal drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines. The figures count deaths from drug abuse but also include those from accidents, suicides, and health complications arising from drug use.
In Brighton and Hove, there were 102 deaths between 2017 and 2019, at a rate of 11.7 per 100,000 people – up from 11.3 in 2016-18. Across England, the average death rate for 2017-19 was 7.1, suggesting Brighton’s soft touch approach may need a re-think.