MP wants 'Somali drug gangs' out of Bournemouth

Tobias Ellwood
Image caption MP Tobias Ellwood believes Boscombe is being targeted by gangs

Somali drug gangs need to be stamped out of Bournemouth according to an MP who believes they were responsible for a "planned hit" on a man shot dead in the town.

Tobias Ellwood likened the fatal shooting of 21-year-old Londoner Reece James Menzies in Boscombe on 25 July to "a scene from The Wire", the hit US police drama set in Baltimore.

The Bournemouth East MP fears Somali drug gangs from inner city London are now targeting Bournemouth, and Boscombe in particular.

He believes criminals see the town as a soft touch compared to larger cities such as London that have specialist police task forces to combat organised drug gangs.

Mr Ellwood said: "This man was shot in the face from close range.

"A gangland hit like this would have been unheard of Bournemouth two years ago. It's like something from an episode of the Wire, not something that Bournemouth wants to be associated with.

"Police in inner city London are used to chasing down organised drugs gangs with specialist teams so the gangs are now moving to places such as Bournemouth, Southampton and Bath, where the police are not as geared up to deal with them."

Dorset Police's Assistant Chief Constable James Vaughan believes significant progress has been made in Boscombe to curb so-called "imported crime" from other cities.

Mr Vaughan said Mr Ellwood's views and concerns were "rightly welcomed".

But Dorset Police said the force was not aware of any particular problem with Somali drug gangs in Bournemouth.

'Broken country'

Mr Ellwood also wants to see legislation to rid the town of unregulated drug rehabilitation centres, which he believes feed the town's drugs market.

He said: "Dorset is seen as a tranquil place so there are a lot of rehab centres in Bournemouth but a lot of them are not regulated. I could set one up in my garage.

"When people drop out they go back into the fog of the back streets and return to drugs. At the heart of this is Somali gangs from London.

Image caption Londoner Reece James Menzies, 21, was shot dead in Boscombe on 25 July

"Somalia is a broken country. The way they do do business there is different to the way we do business here."

Mr Ellwood also wants to see a cap on the number of rehabilitation centres in Bournemouth to prevent other councils from around the UK sending addicts to the town.

"The housing stock in London is exhausted so landlords in Bournemouth are being paid by councils to take on these undesirables, so all the social problems that come with them are moved from the capital," he said.

"No one knows how many rehab centres there are in Bournemouth, the borough council was unable to give me a figure."

'Problem characters'

John Beesley, leader of Bournemouth council, said: "We recognise that the numbers of unregulated rehabilitation centres in Boscombe is impacting negatively on the area and is one of a number of issues at the root of the problems Boscombe is facing."

Mr Beesley said the council was working closely with the police, Mr Ellwood and other organisations to raise the issue with government.

When asked why Bournemouth had so many rehab centres, Mr Ellwood said: "If you're given a choice of living in Harwich, Reading or Bournemouth where are you going to choose?

"We can't be seen as this vessel where other parts of the country hand off their problem characters.

"I'd like to see extra police resources in Bournemouth to stamp this out straight away."

Mr Ellwood is organising a multi-agency conference to discuss drug dealing in Bournemouth on 21 September at Bournemouth Town Hall.

A 22-year-old man who was arrested in connection with Reece James Menzies's murder has been released on bail pending further inquiries.

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