Source: The Argus, Worthing
Date: October 31 2007
Author: Miles Godfrey
Official complaints are being made against Sussex Police after a two
tonne tractor smashed its way into a ‘cannabis cafe’.
The vehicle tore the wall down at the premises in Freshbrook Road,
Lancing, resulting in an estimated £20,000 worth of damage.
Police claimed the cafe was selling cannabis and arrested three people
on suspicion of possessing the drug and money laundering.
However The Argus has since learned all charges have been dropped
against the trio because of a lack of evidence.
A spokesman for the cafe said: “It proves the police were acting totally
out of proportion and were totally wrong to do this.”
He confirmed that at least ten individual complaints are being sent to
the force from people inside the cafe during the time of the raid.
Some claim they were injured after pieces of masonry or glass fell on them.
It was the second time the premises has been raided by police.
Officers smashed their way into the building in June using a battering
ram. A small amount of cannabis and cash was also found on that occasion.
An estimated £10,000 worth of damage was caused during that raid.
Since then the cafe has been significantly fortified, with concrete
filled tyres covering the outside walls, military style razor wire with
an electric current running through it and height restriction barriers
on the slip road running to the premises.
They were added to the six inch thick steel double doors and a hi-tech
CCTV system after the last raid on October 11.
Despite the apparent failure of police officers to secure convictions in
relation to the cafe, senior officers have repeatedly confirmed they are
determined to carry out further warrants on the property.
Chief Inspector Lawrence Hobbs told The Argus: “We have held meetings
with the residents and they clearly want us to close this place down.
With the fortifications that have been made, at great expense, our
options were diminishing.
“That meant we had to take the relatively drastic action of using a
tractor. We considered the health and safety implications very carefully
and were confident nobody would be hurt and nobody was.
“We are not deterred by the owners’ latest comments or their
refortifications. We will continue to execute warrants as and when we
feel it necessary.”
Those behind the cafe say the fortifications are to protect the people
using the business rather than keeping the police out.
The spokesman added: “We want people to feel safe inside, not as if they
are going to have a load of bricks coming down on them at any minute.
“The stuff we’ve got here is not to keep the police out it’s to keep the
people inside safe.”
Were the police right to raid the ‘cannabis cafe’?
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