Norwich internet cafe raided twice by police in 18 months - but owner said they are being persecuted

Eight people have been arrested following a drugs raid at a Norwich internet caf� - the second time it has been targeted by police in the past 18 months.

The cafe in Distillery Square, off Dereham Road, was stormed by police last Friday and drugs and cash were seized.

The action comes 18 months after a similar raid in which three arrests were made and today neighbours called for further police action to stem problems in the area.

However, the owner of the cafe, who gave his name only as Mel, said yesterday that the drug arrests were nothing to do with the shop.

The owner, who previously ran an internet cafe in Sussex Street, off St Augustines, in Norwich, for six years, claimed they had no control over what anybody did outside the shop.

He said: 'We are tired of being persecuted. We don't have any criminals at the shop. We provide a service here, a community shop, and our cafe is open to everyone.'

The premises, which has been run as an internet caf� for about three years, was raided by officers from the West Centre Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) and the Norwich Tactical Unit on a drugs warrant, and a quantity of class A and B drugs as well as cash were seized.

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Residents in flats in Douro Place, overlooking the square, said they were not surprised, and Henrietta Raven, 82, said customers outside the caf� had been a 'terrible nuisance'.

Mrs Raven said: 'So many people go there, mostly in the evening and make a racket. They scream and shout, it is just awful.'

Meanwhile, Denise Bush, 69, said everyone in the sheltered housing complex was fed-up, claiming that people were frightened to walk through the square.

Michael Bowles, 72, said: 'It would be nice to sit in the flat with the windows open.'

However, Herbie Hide, Norwich's former world boxing champion who was at the cafe when the Evening News went to speak to the owner, described the premises as his 'local'.

He said: 'We are a community here. We look up to Mel. He tries to bring the community together here. This is a great shop.'

Eight men aged between 16 and 50 were arrested in connection with drug offences and seven were released on bail until October.

A 31-year-old man was charged with possession of cannabis and will appear at Norwich Magistrates' Court on September 19.

Inspector Lynne Cross, from the West Centre SNT, said: 'This was a successful result for the team. People can be reassured that information passed on to the police will be acted on.'

In March 2010 there were three arrests at the cafe when 15 officers raided the shop. Controlled drugs were also found on the premises.

Anyone concerned about illegal drug activity can contact the West Centre SNT on 0845 456 4567.