Pubdate: Tue, 26 Feb 2008
Source: Argus, The (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Newsquest Media Group
Author: Andy Tate
Bookmark: (Cannabis - United Kingdom)


The Government has vowed to help close down a suspected cannabis
cafe in Sussex following complaints from local residents.

The promise of assistance came after East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim
Loughton confronted ministers in the Commons about the fortified
building in Freshbrook Road, Lancing.

Mr Loughton told MPs: "My constituency has again been blighted by the
establishment of a so-called cannabis cafe, to the great annoyance of
local residents. It acts as a magnet for all sorts of low life coming
into Lancing.

"Despite the best endeavours of the police, who have raided the place
five times, no prosecution has been brought to close it down.

"It is heavily fortified, well beyond what is required for a
legitimate cafe, and a constantly fired furnace is used to burn the
evidence the minute any police come in."

Mr Loughton, who said he supported Sussex Police's efforts, asked the
Government for help so buildings which were "clearly trading
illegally" could be closed down as residents wished.

Home Office minister Vernon Coaker responded that the situation was
"quite deplorable" and told the Commons: "I have not heard of anything
quite as bad as that with respect to cannabis cafes.

"We need to ensure that we nip the situation in the bud, so that
people see the serious consequences of such practice, and so that it
does not spread anywhere else in the country.

"I will be pleased to hear the details because I have not heard of
anything like that anywhere else in the country."

Following an urgent meeting with Mr Coaker on Monday, Mr Loughton said
they had discussed what actions the Home Office could take to tackle
the problems raised by the cafe.

The Sussex MP said: "The minister has promised to look into the
situation and will contact my office shortly to discuss what our next
steps should be in our campaign against the owners of the cafe who
seem to think they are above the law of our country."

Mr Loughton denied the cafe's patrons were keeping themselves to
themselves and said he had received scores of complaints from
residents about nuisance behaviour and discarded needles. There was
also a danger the area could be blighted by the abuse of harder drugs,
he added.

Among the options being considered is the use of proceeds of crime
legislation, which is designed to stop criminals benefiting
financially from law-breaking.

If police could persuade a court that the owner was making money from
crime they could get an order forcing the cafe to be closed and sold
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake