Abuse of drugs in Wigan 'at inner city levels'

People were said to be queuing for heroin
People were said to be queuing for heroin

Wigan’s drug abuse problems are as bad as those in inner cities like Manchester, a police officer claimed.

PC Graeme Pendlebury told shocked justices that the Scholes area was “a magnet for illicit drug use,” while giving evidence during a closure order hearing at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court.

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The hearing related to a single flat in Scholes, which has been occupied by Ian Brooks since January 2018.

The court heard the flat was receiving a high number of visitors, particularly from homeless people, and illicit drug activity taking place.

Drug paraphernalia was frequently found discarded in the communal areas of the flat block and people were found sleeping in the doorways.

There were also reports of incessant loud noise and fighting heard coming from inside the flat, which was said to be in a serious state of disrepair.

The issues were frightening local residents and causing a nuisance to the community continuously.

But PC Pendlebury, who revealed he is the only police officer assigned to a beat in Scholes, claimed that the issue was much more widespread than a single address.

“It has become a magnet for drug users. I have seen people queuing up to buy heroin,” he said.

“I have seen people ‘cooking up’ through the windows, heating up heroin over a candle and injecting it.”

He added: “We get a number of complaints from (Scholes) residents and virtually all of them relate to drug use - the queues of people buying heroin, the petty thefts.

“But a lot of people are too scared to come to the police and tell them.

“Illicit drug use in Scholes is on par with Manchester city centre at the moment.

“We are between Manchester and between Liverpool, we have the cheap rents. And there is a healthy demand for heroin.”

Manchester city centre has become a hotbed of drug use in recent years, with areas like Piccadilly Gardens becoming notorious for the amount of people taking illegal substances including “Spice”.

The closure order was granted until May 1. Only Brooks and officers from Wigan Council are permitted to enter the property during that time.