Radio Sandwell Local News

'Benefits Street' star in drugs arrest

2014-01-07 12:52:49

Dee Roberts
Dee Roberts, 32, was arrested on suspicion of possessing Class B drugs with intent to supply

A star of the controversial Birmingham-based TV show 'Benefits Street' is on police bail following a drugs bust at her home.

Dee Roberts, 32, was arrested on suspicion of possessing Class B drugs with intent to supply following summer raids in James Turner Street, Winson Green.

The unemployed youth worker, who featured in the first episode of the controversial Channel 4 series last night, has protested her innocence.

"At the end of the day I am innocent and have not been charged with anything," she told the Mail. "I've got nothing to hide."

Police raiding two addresses in James Turner Street, Winson Green, on June 14. Dee Roberts was arrested and released on bail

Ms Roberts' home was among four James Turner Street properties searched by police on June 14 last year.

The raids came while TV camera crews were filming 'Benefits Street', a five-part documentary which explores the day-to-day lives of people living in the road.

After the operation, police said a number of bullets were recovered from one property while a "substantial" haul of substances, believed to be cocaine and cannabis, and a large amount of cash were also seized.

Hear from James Turner Street resident Nikitta Bell on her anger at the show

Ms Roberts, a qualified youth and support worker, was arrested on suspicion of possessing Class B drugs but has not been charged with any offence and is currently on police bail.

In separate arrests, a 45-year-old woman was quizzed on suspicion of supplying Class A drugs and for possession of ammunition.

Another woman, aged 29, was detained in connection with the supply of Class A and Class B drugs in the raids that involved 50 officers, dog handlers and the force helicopter.

Yesterday we told how the 'stars' of Benefits Street are locked in a dispute with the show's producers after claiming they were duped into appearing.

Locals insist they only participated because the documentary was billed as a show about community spirit and togetherness.

West Midlands Police raid two addresses in James Turner Street, Winson Green.

But they say the programme makes residents out to be anti-social benefit scroungers, drug takers and layabouts.

Mum-of-three Charlene Wilson, a James Turner Street resident, said: "They told me it was about living as a community and how we all got along. But the actual programme doesn't show any of that.

"If they had said it was about benefits and making the street look bad I would not have taken part. They tricked us."

Yesterday, the Birmingham Mail received hundreds of comments about the story on our Facebook site, with the majority expressing sympathy for those who contributed to the programme.

Matt Grey said: "My family live on that street and they all work. My sister who is on dialysis goes to work every morning to work full-time to provide for her child."

And Hayley Louise Cogswell wrote: "I've been told by a lot of people living on the street that Channel 4 had told them it was a programme about the community. I agree the road is a very tight-knit community, and everyone helps each other out.

"Can't believe they're making them out to be so bad!"

James Lee Moorhouse posted: "I can't believe I'm having to say this, but someone being on benefits does not make them a bad person or lazy.

"Most of the time, they're just down on their luck. I'm on benefits and I'm very hard working."

Angry residents are now considering legal action against the film-makers, Love Production.

But a Channel 4 spokesman said: "This is a fair and balanced observational documentary series. It is a fair reflection of the reality of life on a street where the majority of households receive benefits.

"The contributors were briefed extensively before any filming took place. If any residents requested not to be filmed they were not.

"The main contributors have been offered the opportunity to view the programmes they feature in before transmission to make any comments about their contributions."

It is thought Birmingham was chosen for the show because of high unemployment rates in Ladywood, the constituency to which Winson Green belongs.

But a Mail straw poll of the 101 households in James Turner Street found that at least 16 were in work and not on benefits. There was no answer at 61 of the homes, suggesting many may have been at work.

Ten households we quizzed said they were on benefits, four were either pension age or disabled, three were young families or single parents and seven refused to comment

The findings appear to contradict national reports that nine out of ten households in the street were claiming benefits.

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