A West Country jewel of a seaside resort once dubbed the “British Magaluf” is tackling an unwelcome effect of its popularity due to a rising drug problem.
Newquay, on the north Cornish coast, is a number one destination for young people and surfers looking to have a good time and catch some waves over the summer.
But the crowds of people with cash to splash have attracted an unsavoury criminal element looking to push drugs like cocaine, heroin and cannabis, and even the horse tranquiliser ketamine.
The town became a victim of the so-called County Lines drug problem, where big city drug dealers target rural areas with local pushers, sometimes even using children to flog their wares.
In Newquay in 2022 the crime rate was 69 crimes per 1,000 people, which is 73 per cent higher than the Cornish average of 40 per 1,000 residents.
And Home Office figures show Devon and Cornwall Police seized 18.7kg of cocaine in the year to March 2022 – up from 16.2kg the year before – while ketamine seized rose from 0.3kg in 2021 to 1.8kg last year.
According to the Sun, a teenager attending a nightclub in the town suffered what police believe was a “drug induced” seizure last week.
Police are now fighting back against the drug scourge with raids across Newquay and nearby areas of St Austell, Truro and Penzance last month, in which 31 people were arrested.
It was a landmark operation to crack down on criminal gangs operating from as far away as Merseyside.
Local Dave Farrow, worked as a club doorman in Newquay and said he has seen huge change in town with parts of the resort become “synonymous with drugs”.
He told The Sun: “As a doorman I saw all sorts. I remember opening a toilet cubicle, the floor would be flooded in urine, but they’d be snorting cocaine and kneeling in it, because they were so out of it. Now the drug problem here is different. There are areas of Newquay which have become synonymous with drugs.”
Alison Hernandez, police and crime commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said the force is working on a number of strategies to overcome the drug problem.
She said: “These operations will continue with my full support, which includes direct financial investment, so our communities and the dealers who seek to exploit our most vulnerable citizens understand that this evil trade will not be tolerated here.”