A COMMUNITY in one area of Chepstow is in "collective shock" at the prevalence in the area of drug-taking, sometimes openly in public places.

County councillor Armand Watts said drug-taking and drug-related crime was a "growing issue" within his Thornwell ward.

Concerned residents, he said, included one woman who was last week accosted by a man with a hypodermic needle sticking out of his leg.

That incident, the councillor said, happened in broad daylight near the local primary school.

"I shared the community's collective shock that ordinary people, going about their day, are being caught up in this drug subculture which is spilling out onto the streets in the daytime," Cllr Watts said.

"It's a growing issue within the ward, and the culture of [Thornwell] is changing. People used to respect each other."

The councillor said he had spoken "at length" recently with a Gwent Police inspector who, he said, understood locals' concerns.

But Cllr Watts said he believed police were limited in their capabilities because of a lack of resources, which he blamed on austerity policies.

He called for a greater police presence to tackle what he described as an increasing appetite for harder drugs.

"I'm not just talking about kids smoking a bit of weed – it's a lot more sinister and lives are at risk," Cllr Watts said. "And I feel the community wants to take a stand against it."

Sergeant Nigel Callard, of the Chepstow Neighbourhood Policing Team, told the Free Press: “We are aware of reports of drug use in areas of Chepstow, and have recently launched a Neighbourhood Enforcement Team (NET) in an effort to tackle these issues, and other residents’ concerns, as effectively as possible.

“Several drugs warrants have been executed, and arrests have been made.

"We will continue to target individuals and groups, when we have information to support such action.

"We would urge anyone who can help us to call 101, or contact us direct through Facebook or Twitter.”

Those warrants included an operation in Thornwell on January 31, and one in Bulwark on February 2. Quantities of Class A and B drugs were seized in each raid.