POLICE have launched a major offensive against drug dealers who prey on Blackpool’s pubs and clubs.
Riot police battered their way into town centre homes in a series of dramatic dawn raids.
Five men were arrested and substances including cannabis and mephedrone – or ‘bubble’ – were seized.
Around 50 officers – working as part of Operation Total – raided properties in Springfield Road, Belmont Road, Bank Street and George Street.
Cannabis and mephedrone were seized at the property on Belmont Road and cannabis was recovered at the property on Springfield Road.
Det Chief Insp Brian Quinn said the men arrested played their part in destroying Blackpool’s social scene.
He said: “Drug dealing has a significant effect on Blackpool’s economy, the people involved profit from violence on our streets and we will not allow that to happen.
“This operation is the result of months of investigations which identified people selling Class A drugs in premises in and around Blackpool town centre.
“Police have come from across the force and there’s been a significant amount of planning in terms of identifying offenders.
“This includes executing warrants and making sure arrests go smoothly.”
Two men – aged 20 and 26 – were arrested on suspicion of supplying mephedrone/cathinone derivative and a 30-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of supplying cocaine.
A 42-year-old man and a 55-year-old man were arrested on suspicion of possessing cannabis.
All five remain in police custody where they are being questioned by detectives.
Supt Bill McMahon, of Blackpool Police, said: “We are committed to taking drugs off our streets and removing them from the town’s pubs, clubs and bars.
“We want people to enjoy a safe night out in Blackpool.
“Drug dealing in any of the town’s licensed premises will not be tolerated. It has a really negative impact on our town centre – people who have taken drugs can often become violent and abusive.
“Drug dealing also impacts on our wider communities – most burglaries, car crime and robberies are carried out to fund a drug habit.”
He added: “Tackling drug dealing in Blackpool requires a long-term approach. We are working closely with everyone who plays a part in preventing crime or who works with offenders to make sure we tackle both the causes and consequences of drug-related crime.
“We also need the community’s help to do this. If you have concerns about drug dealing, whether it is in a residential area or within a business or licensed premises, we would urge you to get in touch with us so that we can act on the information you give us.”
Club owners say they fully support the police’s efforts to stamp out drugs in the town.
Craig Southall, chairman of Blackpool Pubwatch, said: “I think it’s fantastic the police are carrying out raids, drugs have always been a problem in Blackpool.
“We carry out searches and toilet sweeps but it is impossible to search everyone who enters the premises and not all drug dealers look like the stereotypes. So the fact the police are getting to the source of the problem and carrying out raids in the town is great news – it really helps us out and stops people becoming violent or ill in our clubs.
He added: “I don’t think the problem is worse but the types of drugs change, in the 80s it was LSD, now it’s bubble.”
Give information to police on 0845 1253545 or to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.