CONCERNS have been raised about increasing drug use in rural north Durham, with police warning they are determined to crack down on the problem.

Consett neigbhourhood policing team, accompanied by Durham Police Deputy Chief Constable Michael Banks, along with members of the the dog section, carried out searches at two pubs Lanchester and nearby Burnhope at the weekend.

PCSO Lisa Jackson said: “Drug activity is increasing everywhere at the moment and we are taking a no tolerance approach to the problem. That includes the little villages, not just in Consett town centre.

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“This operation was a direct result of community concerns about increasing drug activity on their doorstep.

“PC Scott Crowhurst and I are the beat officers for Lanchester and Burnhope and are determined to addressing the problems of our community swiftly and effectively.”

PCSO said there had been reports of small empty plastic bags being found at men’s toilets of some licenced premises. 

She added: “It resulted in licensees conducting regularly checks of the toilets during opening hours and cleaning surfaces with bleach, baby oil and Vaseline to prevent drug taking.

“To help licensees tackle this increasing problem I organised an evening of police walk throughs with the dog section, to identify any customers who may be in possession of a controlled drug.

“During the operation a drugs dog carried out body scans of all customers and a search of the toilet areas."

PSCO Jackson said there were “no issues” at the Ivy Leaf Club, in Burnhope, although a vehicle was searched by dog section, because of the suspicious behaviour of the male occupants.

At the Black Bull, in Lanchester, a discarded packet of white powder – believed to be cocaine - was found in the rear car park, while evidence of cocaine use was found in the men’s toilets.

PCSO Jackson said: “Following our visits both licensees have agreed to work with police regarding providing additional training to staff about drug awareness.

"Further operations and initiatives are being planned for the area but we would welcome all residents with information or concerns to please contact us on 101." 

Black Bull landlord Andrew Birch said: “Drugs are a problem and we welcome the actions of the police.”

The next Police and Community Together (Pact) meeting will be held at Burnhope Primary School, at 6.30pm on Tuesday, April 1.