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Finsbury Park dawn raid: Cops recover suspected heroin, cocaine and cannabis after breaking door down

PUBLISHED: 18:14 02 August 2019 | UPDATED: 18:26 02 August 2019

Insp Thomas Ashley leads all Islington's safer neighbourhood teams. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey

Insp Thomas Ashley leads all Islington's safer neighbourhood teams. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey

Archant

Police arrested a man for possession with intent to supply when they raided a Finsbury Park flat this morning.

A bag of what officers believe to be heroin recovered during the raid. Picture: Lucas CumiskeyA bag of what officers believe to be heroin recovered during the raid. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey

Officers broke down the door at dawn, surged into the flat and searched it, recovering bags of what appeared to be "heroin, cocaine or crack and cannabis" - these will needed to be tested in the lab before their contents can be confirmed.

The man living at the address was cuffed and bundled into a police van, and officers told the Gazette he was already on licence for separate offences so could be recalled to prison.

Insp Thomas Ashley, who leads all neighbourhood police teams in the borough, told the Gazette: "I'm really getting to grips with what the problems are for different areas. For Finsbury Park and Highbury West it's making it as uncomfortable environment as possible for those wishing to make through criminality. There is a lot of drug related activity that we are keen to address.

"I think a great deal of criminality stems from drugs so it's certainly the key to really unlocking the problem and dealing with it.

A bag of suspected drugs recovered during the raid. Picture: Lucas CumiskeyA bag of suspected drugs recovered during the raid. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey

"With any warrant it's very hard to gauge what you're going to get out of it - ideally I want to catch bad people selling drugs. I would prefer it if behind every door we went through there were bales of cannabis or large amounts of heroin."

Insp Ashley explained the force is about to introduce a "problem solving team", comprised of one sergeant and six Pcs who will be "parachuted" (not literally) into wherever they're most needed in Islington.

"They will be utilised in whatever area requires them," he said. "Whether that's burglaries in Bunhill or drug problems in Finsbury Park, it really depends which issue is biggest. I would probably recommend at the moment Finsbury Park needs the resources."

But Finsbury Park and Highbury West wards currently both have one Sgt and five Pcs each, far exceeding the force's London-wide "neighbourhood promise" to have one Sgt, two Pcs and one PCSO in each ward.

No extra officers will be recruited for this team, which will instead draw cops from elsewhere in the borough, but all wards will retain "neighbourhood promise" numbers.

Another notable development is that Highbury West police are relocating from Holloway Police Station, in Hornsey Road, to the "Blackstock Road base" from Saturday. Insp Ashley has pushed for this so they're more "embedded" and visible in the community.

He said the tri-borough policing operation covering Finsbury Park - the area where Islington, Hackney and Haringey all converge - is meeting monthly to discuss issues, with collaboration between the local authorities and police chiefs at these meetings.

But, Insp Ashley admits, there's still more to be done in terms of coordinating the "operational side of things", such as day-to-day patrols and using dispersal powers across all areas at once, rather than just, for instance, the Islington part of Blackstock Road.

He said it's important for the community to note the threshold for obtaining a warrant to raid a property can be very high, so just because police don't immediately act on a tip-off doesn't mean specific issues aren't being investigated. Rather, they're compiling as much "quality intelligence" as possible to cross that threshold, he insists.

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