Combined police operation sends strong message to criminals that the South West is #NoPlaceForDrugs
In a significant new approach, police across the South West have combined their operational powers to tackle cross border drugs supply activities.
Tackling drug-related crime, rooting out dealers and disrupting supplies of drugs onto Dorset’s streets has been the direct result of a co-ordinated campaign led by the south west region’s Police and Crime Commissioners.
The five PCCs – from Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Avon and Somerset – agreed with their respective Chief Constables their Forces would combine operational powers to tackle cross border drugs supply, drug-related crime and associated anti-social behaviour (ASB).
This is the first time in the UK that PCCs, and their respective Forces, have joined together with the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit, British Transport Police and Crime Stoppers to target drug-related crime by setting aside regional boundaries.
Operation Scorpion, which took place from 7 March, harnessed collective powers to disrupt drug crime in the south west by dismantling drugs supply networks, and arresting those who profit from them.
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner and APCC co-chair for Substance Misuse and Addiction, David Sidwick said: “For the first time, all the five regions of the south west have come together with the same priority and a clear intent – to hit those involved in illegal drug activities and County Lines, to take drugs off our streets and to catch those responsible. I am extremely proud of the way in which all the partner agencies have worked together to coordinate this unique operation.
“Fighting Violent Crime and High Harm is one of the priorities of my Police and Crime Plan and sitting under that priority is tackling drug related criminality and exploitation and what better way can there be to tackle the issue, than to bring together our collective resources and turn the whole of the south west region into a fortress against drug crime.”
“Criminals don’t see county borders when it comes to drug supply and dealing activities and now, neither do we. To all those involved the message is clear - the south west is #NoPlaceForDrugs”.
The co-ordinated, targeted operation in Dorset saw:
- 18 arrests
- 17 warrants executed
- A number of weapons seized included tasers, machetes, nunchakus and an extendable baton
- Around £100,000 cash seized
- Six County Lines disrupted
- 17 disruptions linked to 36 vulnerable members of the community that have been visited and their welfare checked
- Partnership work with: HMRC, Dorset Fire and Rescue, Trading Standards, other police forces
- Increased uniform presence in identified hotspots. Reassurance provided to the public around police presence
- Fifteen intelligence reports gathered helping us to better direct resources going forward and to help safeguard vulnerable people.
All five PCCs met with Policing Minister Kit Malthouse MP in London last week. Together they unveiled their collaboration and increased focus on making the south west a hostile place for drugs and criminal gangs and spoke about how it contributed to the national Beating Crime strategy.
Mr Malthouse said: “Confronting drugs is central to fighting crime, violence and neighbourhood degradation. So, I commend the work of Wiltshire, Devon & Cornwall, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Avon & Somerset police forces to rid this scourge from our streets. Op Scorpion is a fine example of what can be achieved when we treat drug- related crime as an insidious enterprise, and the villainous bosses need to know they will soon be behind bars, with plenty of time to ponder on their wickedness.
“Through our Drugs Strategy will are tackling both the supply and demand for narcotics by supporting the police in tracking down these ruthless drug gangs, whilst helping those addicted to drugs with treatment and recovery services.
“The success of Operation Scorpion in the south west is proof that collaboration is key in tackling the supply of narcotics and dismantling the gangs behind it. I want to thank the officers working tirelessly to drive down drug-related crime and anti-social behaviour in their areas.”