DRUG taking college students are encouraging dealers to come to south Essex, according to police.

Students have been warned their willingness to buy drugs is growing the market and causing an increase in gangs, crime and violence in Southend.

The warning to students at South Essex College and Essex University comes after the latest incident by the Forum.

Police say they are working hard to ensure drug dealers and other criminals are not taking over the town but they also need people to stop buying the drugs.

A spokesman for Southend’s local policing team, posting on Facebook, said: “Sadly it’s worth noting not all persons who hang around South Essex College and Essex University are there to study, and come to illegally trade to the students - some of whom think there is nothing wrong in smoking cannabis and illegal substances.

“Unfortunately these are some of the reason these undesirables come to Southend causing crime and violence.”

A South Essex College spokesman said: “The college takes the issue of drugs extremely seriously and works closely with partners including the police and other agencies to raise awareness of this important issue.

"In addition, at each site we employ college guardians whose role it is to ensure student safety and that only people who have a legitimate reason to be in the college are able to gain access to our campuses.

“In response to allegations that students are encouraging those selling drugs to come to the area, the reality is those travelling to the area to sell drugs are not solely targeting students from the college and the university campus, but the wider community.

“We would like to stress that this incident did not take place on college property.

“Nonetheless it is important that we continue to work closely with our partners to educate our students about the dangers of drugs use.

“We hold regular awareness events on issues such as drugs use to inform students of the dangers.

“For example, this week we have welcomed a reformed drug user, who has been clean for 19 years, to all of our sites to hold discussions with students about the perils of drug use.

“The reaction to this educational programme has been overwhelmingly positive from students.

“We have also held safety awareness days with the police to conduct random searches of staff and students to provide reassurance about safety in college.

“Nothing untoward has been found during these days which reinforces comments made by Ofsted inspectors in the college’s latest report which stated ‘learners feel safe, and are kept safe’ in college”.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “We regularly patrol the Forum area, which is a busy location off Southend High Street.

“It is close to Southend Central train station and the college and university.

“Our patrols are in place to ensure people that are using the area are doing so for legitimate reasons.

“In this instance we used stop and search powers before arresting a man from London outside the Forum at around 2pm on Wednesday, December 4.

"Mustak Rahman, 19, unemployed, of no fixed address, has been charged with possession of cannabis and he is due to appear at Southend Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, December 19.”

Essex University declined to comment on the claims by the police.