Licences are being reviewed and an extra beat officer is due to start work in Ramsgate as police attempt to tackle ongoing complaints of vandalism, violence, drug dealing and anti-social behaviour in the town.
Funding of £9,000 could also see a project in Ramsgate by Charlton Athletic youth workers.
Thanet Chief Inspector Lara Connor told town business owners at a meeting last night (May 29) that ‘background’ work is taking place to deal with criminal activity blighting the area and improvements have already been made.
These include a review of pub and off licence licensing, undercover test purchases, work with homelessness and addiction team RISE and the employment of the beat officer. Officers will also be drafted in for Broadstairs, Margate and Cliftonville.
The gathering, organised by councillor Karen Constantine and held at Zest café in Queen Street, was attended by councillors Raushan Ara, Corinna Huxley and Becky Wing, county councillor Barry Lewis, as well as the Chief Inspector and Eden Geddes from the Thanet Community Safety Unit.
Shop, café and pub bosses said problems ranged from abusive children during the day to young adults getting drunk and fighting as well as blatantly open drug dealing and drug taking, street drinkers and the issue of homelessness.
Cllr Ara described the situation as “horrific” but others, including Enoteca boss Toby Foster said more visible policing had resulted in improvements.
Traders also said police response times were too slow with some waiting for more than 24 hours after reporting an incident and active drug dealing was taking place behind the town police station.
Chief Insp Connor said a supervisor was also being moved to work from Ramsgate.
She acknowledged that organised crime, and the exploitation of vulnerable people, was taking place,
She added: “We do have organised criminality in Thanet. There is a lot of work behind the scenes dealing with people exploited by organised crime groups. Some of the work we do is looking at the bigger players and trying to get convictions on them. One organised crime group member is barred from Ramsgate and every single pub. They had been using these for violence and distributing drugs.”
Cllr Wing (pictured) revealed her work with Charlton Athletic, which includes tackling County Lines drug dealing influences on young people, had £9,000 for two youth workers – one of whom is Yofi Yvorra, founder of street football club Yo Street Zone – and a two week project in Ramsgate.
She said: “We need to work together, we are all responsible for making the town the best it can be.
“All young people want to work but there are no opportunities. So, if we have 20 young people who are causing a problem could we have 20 businesses prepared to give these kids a go?”
The suggestion of implementing a Ramsgate Task Force and enforcing CCTV stipulations for licensed premises were also raised.
Cllr Constantine said: “We have to take all the steps we can to protect businesses and make sure we are a thriving area. Whatever actions and measures are put in place must be monitored to ensure we are making improvements to the town centre.”
A further meeting will be held in four weeks time.