Seaside town next to millionaires row is now heroin capital of England

A sleepy seaside town with a once-lauded beach is struggling with a drug and violence problem, despite being a stone's throw from the famous 'millionaire's row'.

Sandbanks in Dorset is a waterside street made up of just 13 houses, officially the most expensive stretch of coastal real estate in the world, with a staggering combined property value of £93million.

However, around five miles to the north east lies Boscombe, a once lovely suburb of Bournemouth which for years was known as the “drugs capital of the South” and ranked among the top 50 worst places to live in England.

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One local described it as "as close to California in the UK as you can get" but, like many seaside towns in England, the increase of foreign travel saw the start of a local decline.

The Sun reported that in 2006, a Bournemouth Borough Council report explained that an "increase in less affluent, vulnerable people" had coincided with a peak in drug use in the area.

Boscombe became a "big importer of people with drug and alcohol problems" and addict numbers were "stimulated" when drug treatment centres opened in the 80s, the report stated.

By 2013, there were nearly 60 facilities available to addicts, according to The Sun.

Following 232 seizures of heroin by police between 2018 and 2019, the highest for any police force, the area was named the "heroin capital" of England and Wales.

Owner of Boscombe seafront-based restaurant Urban Reef, Mark Cribb. said in January: "When I started in Boscombe 16 years ago, I was very conscious that we had the same beach and the same views, pretty much as Sandbanks, which was the third most expensive place to live at the time in the United Kingdom.

"It was beyond my comprehension how you can have somewhere only a few miles along the coast that was considered to be one of the worst."

Boscombe was listed as a “specific target” as part of the Tory levelling-up scheme the Town’s Fund – giving locals some hope of change.

However, some locals aren't holding their breath.

“It’s getting more violent than it used to be,” one told the Sun.

“It’s not somewhere to go at night because there are a lot of homeless people and drug dealing is prevalent."

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Chris Worthington-Foxley, 34, said: “Boscombe has a reputation of being a bit of a crack den and there are some colourful characters but you don’t see much trouble apart from people shouting and stumbling around."

Speaking about Boscombe's reputation to the Daily Echo, restaurant owner Mr Cribb, who has lived in the town for 16 years, had an interesting take.

"They can carry on criticising us, it’s really not a problem because it means that we can all afford to live here a little bit longer," he said.

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