Police are still receiving reports of teenagers involved in drug parties on the banks of the River Dart and in their homes – despite the tragic death of Nathan Wood and a major anti drugs campaign in the town.
An inquest into 17-year-old Nathan’s death, held last week, found he drowned after taking an hallucinogenic ‘high’ and jumping in the River Dart near the Totnes Weir last summer. Last year police in Totnes launched Operation Venus as a response to the former King Edward VI Community College student’s death and concerns at the use of illegal drugs and the once so called ‘legal highs’ among teenagers and young people.
Since then police have seized drugs from young people aged from 13 to 19-year-olds as part of the campaign and have made one arrest for ‘low level supplying’.
But Totnes based neighbourhood police team boss Sgt Tim Perrin said officers were still getting intelligence reports of young people taking drugs at so called drug parties or ‘free parties’ on the banks of River Dart or in their own homes.
He said there were even reports of some of those parties going ahead with the tacit approval of parents.
‘We have a big job on our hands when it comes to trying to change some of the attitudes,’ he said.
‘It is causing us a great deal of concern. Young people are involved and often they don’t know what they are taking.’
Over the last two months the police campaign has involved taking a message in to local school involving people formerly involved in drugs spelling out the dangers of taking illegal substances.
At the same time police officers have been increasing patrols focussing on areas where youngsters tend to gather – like Borough Park – and seizing any illegal drugs they find.
‘We are still finding teenagers in possession of small amounts of cannabis and other controlled substances,’ he added.
He said police were still getting reports of psychoactive drugs in the town as well as cannabis, Ecstasy, amphetamines and cocaine – as well as drugs like Valium, Diazepam and Xanax.
Last month a 19-year-old from Buckfastleigh had to be treated in hospital after he walked into a wall in Totnes town centre after taking some form of hallucinogenic – probably LSD.
And Sgt Perrin said that police had had reports of one young man in the River Dart after taking drugs.