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“That is not true”: Superintendent rejects claims police are going soft on drugs around safe injecting room

Three serving police officers have confidentially told 3AW’s Tom Elliott that they have been told to go soft on drugs in North Richmond since the opening of the safe injecting facility.

An article in The Age today also quotes unnamed police officers who say they’ve been told to go easy on drugs in the area.

But Victoria Police Superintendent David Clayton has denied the claims.

“I can categorically say that is not true.

“There has never been an instruction to go soft,” he said.

However, Superintendent Clayton said police do have special instructions in the immediate vicinity of the centre.

“We’ve got some… police instructions around not over-policing the vicinity of the centre.

“We don’t want police standing at the door charging people in possession of drugs when they’re going in,” he told 3AW Drive.

“If police come across somebody nearby, at the railway station, our expectation is that they… charge them with that possession of drugs.”

The Age today claims that drug dealers are flocking to North Richmond, and escaping charges by claiming the drugs in the possession are for personal use within the safe injecting room.

Superintendent Clayton denied that there has been an increase in drug dealing in the suburb.

“Unfortunately there has been a drug market in North Richmond for many years.

“Anecdotally, I think we’re seeing less drug overdoses on the street,” he said.

More than 100 Richmond residents attended a community meeting on Wednesday night to discuss concerns about the safety of their suburb since the opening of the safe injecting centre.

Victoria Police say they’ve responded to resident concerns by increasing foot patrols in the area.