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UK: Cannabis cafe back in business

Miles Godfrey

The Argus, Worthing

Sunday 21 Oct 2007

A controversial "cannabis cafe" has reopened just days after police used
a tractor to smash their way in.

During the dramatic raid the side of the building collapsed while people
were still inside.

Now the owner of the cafe, which police believe is being used to sell
cannabis, has tried to turn it into an impregnable fortress.

He has stacked car tyres filled with concrete around the building in
Freshbrook Road, Lancing, and installed razor wire to deter intruders.

A spokesman for the owner, who did not want to be identified, said: "We
were back up and running within days of the police raid."

One of those inside at the time said: "It was like something out of a
Bruce Willis film. Somebody could have very easily been very badly hurt
of even killed."

Another said: "It could have easily collapsed completely with everyone
inside it. As it was people did get minor injuries, bumps and bruises,
and one woman suffered an asthma attack."

But police were unapologetic about the estimated £20,000 worth of damage
caused to the building when the tractor pulled away a window so officers
could gain entry.

And they vowed to step up the pressure in a bid to close the cafe once
and for all.

Chief Inspector Lawrence Hobbs, Adur district police commander, said the
building's previous defences forced his officers to use the tractor.

He said: "We have held meetings with the local residents and they
clearly want us to close this place down.

"With the fortifications that have been made, at great expense, our
options were diminishing. That meant we had to take the relatively
drastic action of employing a tractor during the last raid.

"We considered the health and safety implications very carefully and
were confident nobody would be hurt, and nobody was.

"We are not deterred by the owners' latest comments or their
refortifications. We will continue to execute warrants as and when we
feel it is necessary.

"There has to be a recognition that these types of illegal enterprises
will not be tolerated.

"This is not about recreational drug use on a minor scale. We are not
talking about an individual having a quiet joint in their own home.

"We are talking about 30 or 40 people in one place, many of them from
out of town. We are also tackling the people who are profiting from
thousands of pounds a week from the proceeds of crime."




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