Foliage cleared at known drug dealing hotspot as part of campaign to tackle drug offences in Oxford

Published: Friday, 2nd February 2018

Foliage at a known drug dealing hotspot near the city centre has been cleared as part of a campaign to tackle drug offences in Oxford.

Oxford City Council’s Parks Team and Community Response Team, and local volunteers carried out the work, in an alleyway off Wytham Street, earlier this week.

The work, which saw foliage cut back and scrub vegetation cleared along the alleyway, aims to open up sight lines for residents and police, and improve the appearance of the area.

It was part of the Stronghold Campaign, an on-going campaign led by Thames Valley Police and Oxford City Council to tackle drugs offences in Oxford.

The campaign has seen a series of high-visibility, targeted patrols aimed at disrupting offending, identifying and arresting offenders, and reassuring local residents.

At key locations, a range of measures such as improving lights, installing CCTV and cutting back foliage are also being considered.

The work, which was led by a biodiversity and habitat expert at the City Council, saw the lower part of foliage trimmed without damaging the higher parts. This work, known as raising the canopy, aimed to protect and preserve the biodiversity of the area.

The alleyway is a main cycling route into the city centre.

Councillor Tom Hayes, Oxford City Council’s Executive Board Member for Community Safety, said: “Everything we do is to improve people's lives and strengthen their communities. This is a known drugs hotspot and residents say they don't feel safe. Today’s work will make it harder for drug dealing and taking to take place, which will protect vulnerable people caught up in the drugs market and deliver security for our communities.

“Our aims are simple: stopping drug deals and wider criminal behaviour, reassuring people and building up trust in this joint work, and using every tool that is available to the City Council and the Police to safeguard the very vulnerable against exploitation in their own city.”