Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Business as Usual for West End Drug Dealers; One Year after a Standard Investigation, Little Has Changed

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Business as Usual for West End Drug Dealers; One Year after a Standard Investigation, Little Has Changed

Article excerpt

Byline: HUMFREY HUNTER

HUDDLED together on a busy West End street corner, drug dealers brazenly ply their trade in broad daylight.

Office workers and Christmas shoppers pass by as the illegal and deadly business goes on. These pictures were taken for an Evening Standard investigation and show drug dealers openly operating in London only yards from Oxford Street.

But even more worrying is the fact that the Standard first exposed the dealing of heroin and methadone on this street corner a year ago.

We were told that police and local agencies were working together to stem the tide of users and dealers congregating daily on the corner of Tottenham Court Road and Andrew Borde Street in Soho.

But now, 12 months on, it is business as usual for the drug dealers of Oxford Street.

Over the course of 21 hours we saw on average one deal every 20 minutes.

Some took place in the alleyways to where the buyer and dealer would scuttle off after a brief exchange of words.

But most sales, about three quarters, were made by swift and almost undetectable hand movements in the open where small packets were exchanged in the blink of an eye.

More than a dozen people approached the dealers, who spent all but about three hours of each day at their posts. The three men stuck to the same time patterns, arriving at about 10am with rucksacks and hold-alls, and staying until midday. Then they would return at 1pm, at which point there was usually five or six people waiting for them. They would stay until 2.30pm, leave for an hour and after returning at 3.30pm, would stay until the evening.

The usual procedure involves a brief conversation, then hands slip into pockets. What looks like a quick handshake follows and the deal is done.

One young woman made a pitiful spectacle. With a blanket round her shoulders, she counted up the coins she had and offered them to a dealer. …

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