Published: 08:39, 13 December 2019
| Updated: 10:23, 13 December 2019
Illegal assets worth £90,000 have been removed from the streets of Folkestone over the last two months.
This figure is made up of cash, cars and other items used for criminal activity which have now been confiscated by police.
It comes after fears that drug culture is on the rise in the town - only last month 11 people were arrested and charged following a raid in the Bradstone Road area.
Officers had descended on a property at 1am, which led to a cannabis cultivation being uncovered and the subsequent 11 arrests.
Three county lines operations were also disrupted in November, which saw five people arrested and 800 wraps of class A drugs seized.
In addition, a caravan suspected as being used as a drugs den in the Abbott Road area has also been taken away by officers, and a man connected to it is awaiting trial.
Now, Kent Police have revealed it has specialist officers working to gather evidence on those suspected of being involved in drug crime before they are able to establish a 'foothold in the area'.
Insp Andy Brittenden, from Folkestone and Hythe's Community Safety Unit (CSU), said: "Kent Police takes reports of drug offences and antisocial behaviour (ASB) seriously not only because where you have reports of one of these offences, you often have the other, but also because of the impact both of these crime types have on our communities.
"Some offences involve county-lines drug dealing, which is a national trend not unique to Kent or to Folkestone, but often a very small number of people are responsible for a disproportionate volume of crime.
"Kent Police works closely with other agencies in the town’s Community Safety Partnership (CSP) to identify those at risk of harm and make meaningful interventions to help them change their lives.
"There are also specialist officers who continually gather new intelligence and target those involved in drug dealing before they are able to gain a foothold in the area.
"In the last two months alone, proactive police work has resulted in the seizure of around £90,000 in suspected criminal assets and this figure excludes the street value of numerous substances seized and kept off the streets of Kent."
The inspector's comments came after district councillor Laura Davison (Lab) - who last night lost to Damian Collins in the race for the Folkestone and Hythe seat in the General Election - raised the subject of 'open, blatant drug dealing' at a full meeting of the council.
She asked Folkestone and Hythe District Council cabinet member Cllr Jennifer Hollingsbee (Con) what impact this has on the community.
Cllr Hollingsbee said: "Within the CSU and CSP we are very much aware of the impact of drugs and drug dealing within our community, we see the links between drugs and other criminal activity and are doing all we can with our partners to combat it.
"Over the last year we and partners such as Kent Police have devoted considerable time to tackling the threat from both county lines drug dealing and our own local drug dealing networks."
The councillor said the CSP works to divert people away from drugs and other crimes and has also delivered training to people to 'empowering the reporting of criminal activity'.
She added: "In terms of enforcement we have seen a number of successes and significant quantities of drugs, cash and weapons off of our streets with a number of offenders put behinds bars by Kent Police.
"The Public Spaces Protection Order is one of the many tools we have as a district council to equally deal with drugs as well as Community Protection Orders and Community Protection Notices when appropriate.
"[In November] the Kent Police Community Policing Team (CPT) disrupted three county lines operations, arresting five people (resulting in multiple charges for drugs offences), seizing around 800 wraps of class A drugs, and removing caravan that was being used to deal drugs but was also causing a considerably amount of ASB as well.
"The CPT have also targeted a number of recidivist offenders who commit crime to fund their drugs habits with no less than six prolific shoplifters and burglars targeted and recalled to prison."
Insp Brittenden added: "Kent Police and its partner agencies always want to hear from local residents and businesses about their concerns but similarly we also ask that they get in contact and report offences when they happen or as soon it is safe to do so."