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Railway's war on the junkies

SOUTH West Trains have confirmed that toilets at Aldershot railway station have been closed for months because addicts were using them to inject drugs.

The waiting rooms on platforms two and three have also been shut in an attempt to deter youths and drug addicts from using the station as a meeting place.

“The facilities have been abused so much that we decided to shut them down,” said a spokeswoman for the train company.

“We can’t take the chance. We would love to be able to have all our facilities available to the public, but at the moment that’s not going to happen.

“Kids always cause trouble at railways but the Guild-ford/Aldershot/Camberley line is a real problem line.”

The ladies’ toilet, which has remained shut since October, was used as a shooting gallery for heroin addicts.

Drug dealers had claimed areas of the station for their own, creating a culture of fear among local people.

“I don’t go near there if I don’t have to,” said a St Michael’s Road resident, who asked not be named. “I have seen people openly dealing drugs at the station.

“The first time I saw it was in the car park at about 5pm on a Saturday, and the second was about 7pm at the bottom of the bridge.

“There was about three of them standing in the shadows and they noticed I was there, which was a bit creepy. I was pretty scared by the whole thing.”

Gangs of drunken louts are also causing a major problem for late-night commuters, often intimidating and threatening them.

Councillor and commuter Mike Roberts said: “It’s detrimental to the station. This causes problems for people coming home at night on the trains. It poses a real risk to their security.

“Aldershot has a hard drugs and supply problem. Some of this does come in through military personnel, but there is also a channel coming in via Bracknell and London.”

In an attempt to tackle the growing number of dealers, addicts and youths, South West Trains has launched ‘Operation Take Back the Track’ in conjunction with police and councillors. The Aldershot line is the second biggest problem area for the train company, which launched the initiative two months ago.

This involves stepping up barrier checks, more police patrolling the area in and out of uniform, CCTV cameras and extra night staff.

“We are trying to make travelling on the line easier for people,” the spokeswoman said. “It involves a lot of work.”

Cllr Roberts has had regular meetings with police and SWT.

He said: “We aren’t standing around doing nothing. We are looking at how to tackle these problems and have already started.

“SWT are constantly having to put up with the conseq-uences. It’s an issue that needs to be tackled.”

Insp Gerry Hutchins of Aldershot police said: “We have been part of the initiative and have provided a visible police presence at the station.

“It has not been as busy as it has previously from my perspective, but we still provide back-up officers to assist in any trouble, as we are able to get there much more quickly than the British Transport Police who mainly deal with the station.

“We have been working together to reduce any problems.”


Charlotte Neal
Chief Reporter (Aldershot)
Joshua Smith
Farnborough Reporter
Jon Couch
Sport Editor
Stephen Lloyd
Fleet & Yateley Reporter
Ros Collins
Junior News & Mail
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