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Fighting to keep Brighton Pride safe
This year’s Pride event looks set to be the biggest ever according to the police.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Betts, of Sussex Police, said he was expecting about 160,000 people to visit the city through the Pride weekend next week – 60,000 more than last year.
Despite the expected surge of visitors, the force wouldn’t disclose how many officers were set to take to the streets on Pride weekend.
Yesterday, as part of a pre-Pride crime blitz, the police carried out two raids on properties in Brighton seizing drugs.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Betts said: “Pride is a great event for the city in terms of community and businesses.
“We reckon about 160,000 people will visit the city throughout the weekend.
“Unfortunately there will always be a small minority of people who look to exploit and use the opportunity to make financial gains through criminal activity.
“Part of our day-in day-out business here in dealing with drugs means we will increase our activity leading up to large scale events like Pride and work with its organisers, both before hand and on the day.
“We’ll be using plain clothes officers in conjunction with Pride security to really try to deter the small minority want to spoil the event for others.”
Asked whether Sussex Police associated Pride with drug use and supply, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Betts said: “I think it would be unfair to single out one event as having an association with drugs.
“What we do know is when large scale events occur, some people will use it as an opportunity to deal drugs, steal mobile phones and things like that.
“When you think of the number of people coming in, it’s a natural result.
“What’s very positive is the Pride organisers are working with us hand in hand in the planning and also in the security of the event on the day.
“The event itself for us is a public safety event. I’ll be in charge on the day ensuring people are allowed to come and enjoy the event.
“We would ask people to enjoy it responsibly and look after themselves and their property.
“As I said it’s a small minority who want to cause trouble and deal drugs. But working with the organisers we will proactively deal with those people.
“If you are thinking about coming to Pride to deal drugs, then expect us to come through your door leading up to the event.
“Also expect to get arrested by plain clothes officers working on the day or detained by security who will then inform us.”
Pride’s operations director Phil Riley said: “Pride is possibly the largest single event in the Brighton calendar.
Parade “It attracts many thousands of visitors to the city both for the LGBT community parade and the festival at Preston Park.
“Unfortunately there will always be a minority who target any major event in the hope of exploiting it for financial gain.
“Pride organisers work closely, throughout the months of planning and on the day, with the police and other agencies to develop policies and protocols to detect and minimise these unwelcome activities.
“Entries for the parade are at a maximum, tickets for the festival are selling fast and the weather forecast is good.
“The LGBT community is gearing up for a fabulous Pride day.”
Paul Kemp, festival director, said this year’s event was the “most anticipated ever”.
He said: “This is the most anticipated Pride ever, with artists performing on the main stage including Paloma Faith, the original Sugar Babes, Stooshe and Alison Moyet.
“Tickets are selling really well and we are hoping to pass last year’s figures well before the day itself, raising even more much needed funds for the RainbowFund and worthy local LGBT causes.
“Don’t leave it too late, tickets can be bought at Duke of York cinema or Prowler or online at Brighton-Pride.org.”
White powder, pills, cash – ‘A job well done’
Seven o’clock in the morning at a central city police station and the faces of two known drug dealers appear on the projector in a pre-raid briefing room.
Attentive officers are given details of the first suspect – a man they raided just seven weeks ago who is known for dealing drugs across the gay scene.
Police say his stock list of narcotics include the horse tranquiliser ketamine, MDMA – otherwise known as ecstasy – date-rape drug GBL and mephedrone, familiarly known as ‘meow’.
The man has been seen coming and going from the property of a second suspect.
Similarly, the second suspect is known for supplying GBL, ketamine and mephedrone within Brighton and Hove’s gay scene.
Once the briefing is over, a squad of officers slip into their raid gear and head to the properties in Devonshire Place and Grafton Street, Brighton.
The two raids, which took place yesterday morning, form part of a pre-Pride drugs blitz before the annual celebration event next week.
Now in its 21st year, Pride is a fixture of life in Brighton and Hove.
But behind the carnival fun and frolics there is, as with any large-scale event, a concern over drug use and supply.
Ahead of this year’s event, police are adopting a nononsense approach to drug dealers who are thinking of using Pride to ply their trade.
The message from Sussex Police’s Detective Chief Inspector Paul Betts is clear and simple. He said: “If you are thinking about coming to Pride to deal drugs, then expect us to come through your door leading up to the event.”
And yesterday morning, that’s exactly what they did.
Blue lights flashing but without sirens, two police vans rolled into Devonshire Place at around 7.30am and quickly ejected a handful of officers from each vehicle.
They discreetly approached the front door of the first target and with two forceful thumps of a battering ram, charged into the building.
Inside, a rather shaken and surprised man was sitting on a sofa watching television while two men were in bed together in a neighbouring bedroom.
They were all immediately arrested and handcuffed while a search of the property took place.
Almost simultaneously at the second property in nearby Grafton Street, the door to another building was rammed open and officers rushed inside – startling another resident of the building who was making his way outside.
The man identified in the briefing wasn’t at home, but the police still began searching every nook and cranny of each room for drugs.
Officers found weighing scales with traces of a white powder on them, various bags or ‘baggies’ with white powder inside, a larger bag topped to the brim with another white powder, pills, £400 in cash and various phones and laptops.
All the items were bagged up as evidence while the men were taken away for questioning.
“A job well done,” said one of the officers.
Later, DCI Betts said: “We’ve always taken drugs seriously in the city. We’re working day in, day out to target both class A and lower class drugs too and the supply of those drugs.
“We’ve had some really good results and the three arrests today is good evidence of that.”
Fighting gay stereotypes
Not all police officers will be working during next week’s Pride celebrations.
For some, the Sussex police flag will be replaced with the famous rainbow crest of the Gay Police Association.
The association represents the needs and interests of lesbian and gay employees of police forces up and down the country.
And next week, as has been tradition since 2004, Sussex’s gay police will be marching with pride in full uniform.
Last year around 50 officers took to the streets in attire they’d normally be fighting crime with.
Instead, they were fighting stereotypes and prejudices aimed at the lesbian and gay community.
Next week will be no different.
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