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Locals in a trendy UK neighbourhood known for its chic bars and restaurants say the area is being overrun by drug dealers and huge rats that travel in packs.
Camberwell, South London, has become a popular night-time destination for Londoners thanks to its vibrant cultural life and extensive transport connections.
However an influx in drug dealers to the area along with a growing infestation of rodents is now threatening to tarnish its reputation and scare away visitors.
Dealers have become more visible and aggressive, according to one resident who wished to remain anonymous.
The man told MyLondon that they were predominately young people who smoked and sold drugs from around four or five in the afternoon until the early hours of the morning.
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“No one can talk to them. They are too aggressive,” he said.
“They want a fight with anyone who tries to talk to them and are abusive.
“The council and police should do something about it. They need to find a way to prevent this type of thing.”
This year has seen a massive spike in drug dealing offences in London, with latest figures showing they are at their highest level in more than five years.
In May 2023, there were 883 “drug trafficking” offences – around four times the figure of 223 in January 2018.
Detective Superintendent Adam Ghaboos, the Metropolitan Police’s lead responsible officer (LRO) for drugs, puts the rise in trafficking cases largely down to the Met’s “additional activity over and above what we’ve done before”.
That has involved the launch of Operation Yamata in 2022, which saw the Met change its tactics and operational activity in regards to drug crime.
DSI Ghaboos said the Met are now better at finding drug operations which have “always been there”, as they have “started to find it and pursue it more” with their new operations.
Camberwell residents have also reported seeing packs of giant rats roaming the common.
32-year-old Cassie Graham told MyLondon that they were “not really hygienic”.
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“I don’t know where the rats are coming from, but they’re quite big,” she said.
“I usually see about five of them together. I don’t think it’s good for people to be lying on the grass with them.”
London is not the only city in the UK to be blighted by the presence of rodents on its streets.
There are now thought to be some 150 million rats in the UK – approximately 2.2 rats for every person.
The capital is the city with the highest rat population, with nearly 20 million rats living there, followed by Birmingham, where around 2.4 million rats call home.
Rats can breed exponentially – they live for approximately one to three years, and females reach sexual maturity at around five weeks.
They average about five litters per year with up to 12 offspring from each litter.
It is estimated that one female rat can produce roughly 60 offspring in a year.
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