Police have admitted that dealers from the capital are responsible for circulating hard drugs such as cocaine, crack and heroin.

They are contributing to Aldershot's growing reputation as a haven for addicts and drug-related crime.

The admission was made after Rushmoor councillors raised their concerns over the problem of drug and alcohol-related offences in the town.

At a meeting of the borough services panel Cllr Mike Roberts was adamant that people are regularly intimidated in the streets by anti-social youths and drug users.

"Aldershot does have a huge drugs problem," he said. "Lots of people shoot up (inject heroin) in public places, which used to happen a lot in the railway station in particular.

"How can we manage the heroin supply? Aldershot is one of the hubs for the supply of heroin, with dealers moving down from London to areas such as this and Bracknell.

"This creates more violent crime. This is an increasing problem for people in Aldershot."

Cllr Diane Bedford, a pharmacist at Boots, agreed with Cllr Roberts' concerns.

She said: "As a pharmacist this bothers me greatly. I know that people can get the drugs and medicines from us and sell them on."

Half of residents in Rushmoor are also too afraid to go out in the dark, according to Rushmoor Council's May 2002 citizens' panel survey - a figure unchanged since the 1999 Mori survey for the area.

Cllr Roberts added that there is an increasing problem of anti-social behaviour among youths in Aldershot town centre.

He said that many incidents were drug and alcohol-related, which led to violence and harassment which was extremely intimidating for the public.

In response to the councillors' comments, Chief Insp Neil Sherrington of Aldershot police admitted drug users are a major problem.

He said: "From our perspective people who use and abuse drugs will commit crime to fund their habit, and there are people in Aldershot who clearly abuse heroin."

He agreed with the claims that there are problems at Aldershot railway station, with drug abusers using the facilities to inject heroin.

"There has been a particular problem, although the cause of that has been addressed.

"There were a limited number of people using the women's toilets to inject the heroin.

"It apparently has a better light for the drug abusers to see their veins properly so they can inject the needle.

"Yet the problem was identified and the appropriate authorities have taken action by closing the toilets."

The police are involved with the local education authority in a crime and disorder partnership, a scheme which has worked particularly well in Hart district.

This includes a programme called Getting It Right in which police give education in schools on drugs, with the basic message being ‘Don't use and abuse drugs'.

He also highlighted the fact that the issues surrounding drug dealers moving into Aldershot from London have been addressed.

"This was an issue, and Aldershot was one of the areas that had an increase in cocaine dealers around this time last year.

"A specific operation was put in place at the time and this was tackled."