Cocaine dealers in Vesterbro have had free rein to ply their trade over the summer after police management gave orders to focus on pick-pocketing instead.
As a result, residents have complained that the dealers, mostly transient African migrants, have become increasingly visible and aggressive on the busy street of Istedgade.
“At the moment we are not arresting pushers,” Michael Møller, shop steward of the police’s union for the downtown police station Station City, told TV2 News. “They have 100 percent free rein in Vesterbro at the moment. The direct reason is that the police’s lawyers are too busy. So the management has ordered the local police not to bother with the street level.”
The revelation of the unchallenged cocaine trade on Istedgade resulted in widespread media coverage and a subsequent explanation from the police that their resources were too stretched to effectively tackle all their areas of responsibility simultaneously.
”We have a resource problem and we’re going to end up disappointing residents more in the future,” Claus Oxfeldt, head of the police union, Politiforbundet, told Ritzau. “If something doesn’t happen politically and we are allocated more resources, we are going to witness more places without a police presence.The situation will only get worse and the citizens will start to notice it. We don’t have any more resources than we have had since 1989, despite having much larger responsibilities with gangs and IT crime.”
Police countered the initial claims that the police had completely stopped arresting cocaine dealers though they admitted that arrests for June, July and August were down 50 percent on the year before.
But while the police say they did not have the resources to effectively tackle the Vesterbro’s cocaine dealers, earlier this month Copenhagen Police announced that they were going to crack down on the drug dealers in Christiania's Pusher Street using a special task force.
According to Kaj Lykke Majlund, the head of local police operations at Station City, additional resources have been allocated to create the Pusher Street task force, whereas the absence of police from Vesterbro’s streets was due to a reprioritisation.
“Every police leader would like more resources at their disposal, but in Copenhagen we have to make do with what we have and target the crime,” Majlund told The Copenhagen Post. “This summer, we have focused on the party environment in Copenhagen where youngsters are using a variety of different narcotics. We have also been targeting pickpockets for the past three months and have managed to reduce the number of reports as a result. For this, we used staff from the special unit that normally targets drug dealers.”
Majlund added that they have planned to step up the action against the cocaine dealers incrementally. He added that he did not yet know what impact the Pusher Street task force may have an impact on their work in Vesterbro.
“I have to prioritise Station City’s workflow and we have delivered some manpower to the Pusher Street task force but I don’t yet know whether it will have an influence on our work in Vesterbro,” he said.