A SENIOR policeman believes a Somali drug-dealing gang has been driven out of notorious Southend tower blocks.

Insp Leigh Norris of Southend police is hopeful his team’s hard efforts are starting to pay off after the closures of two crackhouses at Pennine, believed to have been connected to the gang.

It came after reports the dealers had moved down from London to prey on vulnerable residents, by taking over their flats to sell heroin and crack cocaine.

Since the two flats were sealed up on November 11, it is believed their activity has been disrupted.

Insp Norris said: “As far as I know, there are no Somalis drug dealers in these four blocks.

“I might be wrong, and if they are there I’d like to know. If someone phones me up and gives me an address, I will go round there and act.

“The council tells me they are not supposed to be in these flats and if intelligence suggests that they are drug dealing I’m going to deal with them. I’ve said that all the way along.”

However, former Southend Chief Insp Andy Prophet had said in May 2010 the gang had been driven out of Southend, but the dealers returned.

The Echo has launched a campaign to improve security at the blocks – backing a call from worried residents in Malvern, Chiltern, Pennine and Quantock.

However, Insp Norris said his neighbourhood team had already chosen to change their shifts, working nights to tackle any issues which arise.

This means their two sergeants and seven neighbourhood constables will be patrolling the blocks into the early hours.

Insp Norris added: “They voluntarily changed their whole shift pattern, because they are keen to keep these operations we’ve got, and the good work we are doing, going.”

He stressed they have a large area to cover, including the Kursaal, Milton, and Victoria wards. These have pockets where the deprivation is classed as in the top 1 per cent in the country.

He said: “Our staff have got to cover a big area, three wards, and the tower blocks are just part of that. We’ve only got a limited amount of people.

“I think we’re doing the best we can with the staff that we’ve got.”

Anyone with information can call the local neighbourhood policing team either on 101 (or 999 if a crime is in progress) or on the team’s mobile phone, 07817 968114.