Subj: New Drugs Swoops At Cafes

Author: by Huw Borland

Pub Date: Thursday, 12 December 2002





A cannabis campaigner's Amsterdam-style coffee shops in Worthing were raided during a police crackdown on drugs.

Operation Thor involved about 30 officers in a series of raids across Worthing, targeting people believed to be involved in drugs, burglary, violence and vehicle crimes.

Among the 15 addresses visited yesterday were the cafes owned by Chris Baldwin, who stood as the Legalise Cannabis Alliance candidate for East Worthing and Shoreham in the last General Election.

The Quantum Leaf cafe in Rowlands Road and Buddy's Hydroponics cafe in Brougham Road were both raided at 11.30am.

Officers arrested Mr Baldwin and one other person at Quantum Leaf on suspicion of drugs-related offences. Another person was arrested at Buddy's for suspected possession of cannabis.

Quantum Leaf is based in the back room of the Bongchuffa smoking accessories shop.

Police had previously raided the cafe on November 27, making 12 arrests. Mr Baldwin reopened the cafe the following day and said he was determined to keep serving customers.

Chief Inspector Ross Whitfield, Worthing's new district commander, said yesterday: "The cannabis cafe has been raided again because we cannot condone people who have such a flagrant disregard for the law.

"Our aim is to put them before a court, so the court can decide their future." Legalise Cannabis Alliance campaigner Sarah Chalk, who was working in Quantum Leaf at the time of yesterday's raid, promised the cafe would remain open.

She said: "This coffee shop is part of the community. People love this place.

It is part of what they like about Rowlands Road."

Before officers rushed into the cafes, a number of dawn raids had taken place throughout the town.

A police spokesman said a total of 12 people had been arrested during Operation Thor, including two suspected burglars. Another target was arrested on suspicion of possessing crack cocaine.

Mr Whitfield said the timing of the raids, just before Christmas, was intentional.

He said: "We want to lock these people up for the Christmas period so the rest of Worthing has a pleasant and happy one.

"This is one of many days we'll be doing in the future. We are trying to create the culture for the people that commit crime and mess up other people's lives, that we're going to do the same to them."

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