POLICE say they will tackle drug dealing, drug use and begging in troubled areas during the lockdown.

Residents have reported seeing people ignoring social distancing and lockdown rules in St James’s Street and in Western Road in Brighton.

It has included reports of “aggressive begging” to people queueing outside supermarkets. Others have complained of “junkies” continuing to gather in the streets while intoxicated.

One resident said: “We are getting constant groups of intoxicated people meeting up, drinking, taking and dealing drugs on the street.

“In the last few weeks of lockdown we have seen no police officers or community support officers in the area, I’m assuming because they are busy on the beach and other areas where people are taking their daily exercise.

“However as St James’s Street is a huge hotspot for drug dealing and antisocial behaviour, surely there still needs to be some form of patrol from the police?”

Another resident said: “New Steine Gardens is a hotspot for drug dealing, drug taking and antisocial behaviour and it seems to be a prime meeting place for these activities.

“Usually we would not go in there in the summer to sit in the sun because there have been needles, bodily fluids, and human excrement on the green as well as threatening behaviour from these people if you refuse to give them money.

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“They are ignoring social distancing rules.

“Officers who arrived on patrol just moved them on, there were no threats of fines, no searches or arrests.

“It is an absolute joke that these people are allowed to do whatever they like.

“These people seem to have more power than the police and council combined.

Meanwhile a supermarket customer in Western Road, Brighton, said: “There are huge problems with junkies.

“Shop managers have said the police have not bothered to do anything about it.

“There was a group outside Sainsbury’s blocking people and hassling them in the queue, including hassling an old lady with a walking stick.

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“Customers are being harassed and are frightened, meanwhile outside Waitrose they have been going up and down the queue begging people for drugs money.

“It would be really good to be able to go shopping safely without that kind of stuff going on.”

Chief Inspector Dee Wells said: “We are aware of people’s concerns in this area, and we continue to work with the community and our partners, including Brighton and Hove City Council and charities, to tackle the issue of drug dealing and use.

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“While circumstances may have changed in recent weeks due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, our policing approach hasn’t.

“We remain committed to tackling criminality and keeping people safe – and feeling safe.

“Our local prevention teams continue to be active in the area and across the city, and we will respond wherever possible to reports of drug dealing.

“Anyone who has concerns about drug dealing or any other type of crime can report it online or call 101.”

The coronavirus Sussex Crisis Fund has been set up to help those affected by the pandemic. The Argus’s charity and American Express have each donated £50,000 to kick-start the appeal. Grants will usually be for up to £5,000. More information is available at www.sussexgiving. org.uk/apply. To donate visit www.totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/sussexcrisisfund