Scores of drug pushers have been swept off the street in an area plagued by crime.

People in London Road, Brighton, welcomed the arrests of 82 people in a three-week police crackdown, 24 of them in their area.

The action followed angry complaints nearly six months ago about dealers openly selling class A drugs on the streets, addicts injecting heroin near schools and pickpockets targeting shoppers.

Senior police officers and councillors were confronted by angry shopkeeprs at a public meeting after The Argus highlighted their concerns.

Today Sussex Police said the latest phase of their anti-heroin strategy, Operation Reduction, had included specific action to target people in the London Road area.

Joy Flowers, who works for Dakers Solicitors, rallied businesses in the area to form London Road Traders’ Association in September.

She said: “I think the police efforts have been welcomed and the area is much improved.

“It needs to be kept on top of. It needs all the traders in London Road to be vigilant and to help by reporting problems to the police.”

She praised police for providing visible patrols and giving businesses the phone numbers of police community support officers so they can report problems directly.

Green councillor Ian Davey, who represents the St Peters and North Laine ward on Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “It comes up often when talking to residents in the London Road area.

“I’m sure they will be absolutely delighted with these police efforts.”

This month police teams carried out 19 raids across the city.

They seized 74 ‘wraps’ of heroin - amounts of the drug separated and packaged for sale - and 19 wraps of cocaine.

A further 16 grams of heroin and 53 grams of cocaine were confiscated, along with 100 cannabis plants, nearly 1.2kg of cannabis, ecstasy pills and liquid methadone.

After the raids, 37 people were charged with 88 offences, mainly supply or possession of heroin.

Other crimes included possession of a bladed article in a public place, possession of class B drugs, breach of ASBO and driving offences.

Action in the London Road area has also included the closure of a crack den in the New England Quarter housing development.

Chief Inspector Laurence Taylor, who leads Brighton and Hove's neighbourhood policing teams, said: "These arrests in relation to London Road and the closure of a premises in Sheffield Court are not one-offs.

“With local residents, businesses and voluntary groups and agencies such as the police and the city council continuing to work together, these problems can be resolved providing longer term results."

Councillor Mary Mears, leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “Our joint action is getting excellent results. The council will continue to support the police, businesses and residents to tackle antisocial behaviour and create a safer and more pleasant environment in the area."

Operation Reduction was devised in 2005 to tackle drug-fuelled crime in Brighton and Hove.

It aims to disrupt the supply chain of class A drugs by putting low-level dealers behind bars.

Users who commit crimes like shoplifting and thefts from crimes to fund their habits are encouraged into treatment to stop the cause of their offending.

Outreach workers from the city’s Drug and Alcohol Action Team and charity Crime Reduction Initiatives help the users get access to rehabilitation.

The strategy was hailed a success last year by an independent report which showed the city saw an 18% fall in drug-linked crimes such as theft and burglary since it was launched.

Nearly 500 people have been arrested and nearly 300 people referred for rehabilitation treatment.

Detective Chief Inspector Ian Pollard, head of Brighton and Hove CID, said: "Operation Reduction continues to make a real difference by targeting both the drug dealers and the drug users in Brighton and Hove and helping more drug users to get the care and support they need.

“But anyone involved in drug dealing at any level in Brighton & Hove needs to know that we will identify, pursue and prosecute them."