Drugs flow around central station

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Oslo’s Central Train Station

(Sentralstasjon, Oslo S) has gained a reputation as “Drugs Central” because of all the pushers and addicts lingering around its entrances. The station is Norway’s largest transit point, and provides a dubious welcome to commuters and visitors alike.Drug addicts have long been a problem around the station. For years, they gathered at an area called “Plata” on the station’s south side, not far from the new pedestrian crossing to Oslo’s new Opera House. Even before the Opera opened last year, police made a concerted effort to chase the addicts away and “clean up” the station area.

Now they’re back, in force, and have in turn attracted bands of often aggressive pushers and suspicious men lurking in the background, talking incessantly on mobile telephones. Drugs and money change hands openly, and users inject heroin openly as well.

“What’s happening this summer is that the buying and selling of drugs, along with injecting them, is occurring very openly,” Håvard Haugstvedt of the city’s Alcohol and Drug Addiction Service (Rusmiddeletaten) , which tries to aid and rehabilitate drug addicts, told newspaper Aften . “It’s so open that it almost looks like it’s all legal.”

It’s not. The chief of the local police station, Kåre Stølen, says his officers have arrested around 1,600 persons for the sale, purchase and possession of narcotics just since New Year. “Oslo S isn’t a free area, folks aren’t allowed to do what they want,” he says. “But it doesn’t help with prison.”

Nor is there enough prison cell space for them all. Stølen is pleading with city politicians to boost drug treatment programs, and says the drug problem doesn’t go away just by clearing the crowds away from Oslo S.

Find new ‘special’ areas

ROM Eiendom, the state agency owning railway property, wants to help addicts find a new place to congregate, based on models from Hamburg and Frankfurt. “When Norway’s most important transit point is also Norway’s largest marketplace for narcotics, it goes without saying that this is intolerable,” Signe Horn of ROM Eiendom told Aften , adding that travelers and local merchants also are plagued by theft and public disturbances.

Tor Sannerud, Oslo’s tourism chief, says a group of Spaniards that he was leading out of the station were shocked when they all came across an addict just as he injected heroin into his leg. “They’d never seen anything like it at home,” he said. “It’s the job of the police to maintain law and order. This has to stop.”