Wales

'Remove Butetown phone boxes used for drug-taking'

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Media captionBT said the removals were due to the boxes being underused

Community leaders are campaigning for public phone boxes to be removed from an area of Cardiff, saying they are used by addicts to take drugs.

Two have been removed from Butetown but residents, a councillor and religious leaders said others also need to go.

"It wouldn't solve the problems here, but it would be one small step," said Father Dean Atkins of St Mary the Virgin Church.

BT said it had no plans to remove any more phone boxes.

Jeffrey Gabb lives near one of the boxes and said residents regularly saw drug-taking in public view.

"I have been down here all my life and this is as bad as I have seen it," he said.

"It's a phone box for dealing. It can happen any time of day. Somebody is going to die down here sooner or later."

Image caption Saeed Ebrahim has seen people taking drugs in the phone boxes

Butetown councillor Saeed Ebrahim said: "Thankfully, two boxes have been removed recently and we are looking to get rid of the rest in the near future.

"I have seen it myself. People inside the boxes injecting [drugs]. It has not been pleasant."

Father Atkins said phone boxes were "not used a lot" to make calls, but seeing them used for drug-taking and dealing "makes people fearful".

"BT have refused to tell us how much they are used because it's confidential information," he said.

"They have admitted that, actually, it brings in good revenue from advertising so, really, they are just advertising billboards, not phone phones."

BT said phone boxes had been removed near Loudoun Square and Alice Street due to a decline in the calls being made.

"While crime and anti-social behaviour is a matter for the police, BT works regularly with local community groups and authorities to address any concerns," a spokesman said.

Insp Sohail Anwar, from South Wales Police, said: "We are working really hard every day to tackle this issue, whether through uniformed officers or plain-clothed teams targeting the bigger players, as well as working in partnership with other agencies and organisations.

"Members of the public can be our eyes and ears in the community, and people have reported their concerns consistently about the use and supply of drugs in this area."

Image caption Father Dean Atkins said he knows of parents who "won't let children play in the local streets any more"

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