A CITY-WIDE drug summit could be created in the battle to combat the “misery and fear” inflicted on Sussex communities by predatory gangs.

The plan would see police, residents and city leaders come together to tackle the “deep-rooted” drug trade which is bringing death and devastation to Brighton and Hove and further afield.

Residents would be given advice on how to gather usable evidence against their drug-dealing neighbours in a bid to banish them from their neighbourhoods.

The plan would work similarly to an initiative in Craven Vale, Brighton, which is said to be “seeing success”.

City residents are dying at a rate of once a fortnight from drug misuse amid warnings that predatory drug gangs are using the young and vulnerable to sell their wares.

Brighton and Hove City Council’s budget is due to be decided today.

Councillor Nancy Platts, leader of the Labour group, which is pushing for the summit, said: “We hear the fear it has created. We’ve had violence, people being stabbed and others collapsing outside blocks of flats from drug overdoses.

Plan to start a community fight back against drug gangs

Plan to start a community fight back against drug gangs

“It has been horrendous, leaving lots of people very upset, anxious and frightened.”

Gangs have been enticed into the city which has proved profitable due to resident demand for drugs, as well as its proximity to London.

The Argus has previously reported warnings that the city is now the number one destination for “County Lines” in the country. The term describes organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into areas of the UK.

Cllr Platts said the Craven Vale area of Brighton has seen problems with the drug gangs, but virtual round tables with residents and authorities have helped the neighbourhood fight back.

The meetings have enabled residents to have their say on the issues within their community, allowing authorities to explain how they can gather evidence admissible in court, as well as educating people on which powers are available to authorities kick people out of properties if needs be.

The drugs summit would build on that success city-wide, Cllr Platts said.

Councillor Nancy Platts

Councillor Nancy Platts

She added: “Bringing people together showed there was a strength in the community. It has helped people to have the courage to come forward. Meeting regularly and starting to solve problems has given the power back to community.

“The drug dealers are going to keep moving around, but we can work together to move them out ward by ward. We can show them that the people living in Brighton and Hove will not put up with it.

“The council and police have worked incredibly hard – and continue to work really hard – this would be next thing in our armoury.”

Labour MP for Hove and Portslade Peter Kyle had previously warned that gangs are attempting to recruit schoolchildren after detention.

Speaking about the proposal, the Shadow Youth Justice Secretary said: “People don’t understand how deep-rooted the drug trade is in our city and how far the damage has spread.

“It involves the criminal exploitation of children, it involves vulnerable people being force to traffic drugs and it’s a key driver of violence throughout our community.

“Now is a great time for our city to pause, reflect, and understand what this is doing to our city today in 2021 and reequip ourselves for the challenges it brings into the future.”