Scorpion stings the South West
Tackling drug-related crime, rooting out dealers and disrupting supplies of drugs onto Dorset’s streets.
Over the past couple of weeks, there has been fervent police activity across the whole of the south west region to tackle drug related crime, catch drug dealers and disrupt the supply of drugs into the cities, towns, and villages of the entire region.
I am delighted to say that for the first time, all five PCCs – from Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Avon and Somerset came together with a shared intent - to work together to tackle drug related criminality and exploitation - which is a priority of my Police and Crime Plan.
All the PCCs agreed with their respective Chief Constables that their Forces would combine operational powers to tackle cross border drugs supply, drug-related crime and associated anti-social behaviour (ASB).
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. Scorpion saw the Forces work alongside partners ranging from the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit, British Transport Police and Crime Stoppers to target drug-related crime by setting aside regional boundaries.
I had the honour of joining the PCCs from across the region when we met with Policing Minister Kit Malthouse MP in London last week and together, we unveiled the collaboration which has at its core an increased focus on making the south west a hostile place for drugs and criminal gangs - ultimately, this operation links in with and contributes to the national Beating Crime strategy.
As the APCC co-chair for Substance Misuse and Addiction, I have been delighted to see Scorpion in action, over the last couple of weeks. I have been out alongside officers, watching them breaking down the doors of suspected drug dealers and I want to say a heartfelt thank you to every officer who took part in this operation – their bravery and commitment to keeping us all safe is commendable.
The results in Dorset were impressive – 18 arrests, 17 warrants executed, a number of weapons including tasers and machetes seized, 17 disruptions linked to 36 vulnerable members of the community, around £100,000 was also seized and 6 County Lines disrupted.
Results from across the region were equally impressive:
Avon and Somerset Police
- 64 arrests
- 17 warrants executed
- Five known county lines disrupted, and approximately 350 pieces of disruption work relating to organised criminal gangs
- 178 visits and or/safeguarding checks to vulnerable people’s addresses
- At least 44 educational visits to schools, youth clubs, colleges and scouting groups, to engage with young people, parents, teachers and other professional practitioners about exploitation and grooming
- Partnership work across the board with Avon and Somerset Police working closely with other police forces, housing agencies, taxi licensing, Border Force, outreach workers, local community leaders, Bristol Drugs Project, The One25 Project, other drug and alcohol misuse support services, health workers and HM Prison Services, amongst others
- At least 41 weapons sweeps and 69 additional patrols in areas of high demand for drug dealing / misuse and serious violence
- A significant number of intelligence reports gathered helping us to better direct resources going forward and to help safeguard vulnerable people
Devon and Cornwall Police
- 20 arrests
- Approximately £21,000 worth of drugs seized
- Approximately £7600 of cash seized
- 21 disruptions to drugs supply lines
- 21 safeguarding and vulnerability visits
- 19 arrests
- 11 warrants executed
- Two drugs’ lines disrupted
- Approximately £130k worth of suspected drugs seized
- 20 vulnerability checks carried out
- 20 arrests
- 10 warrants executed
- 24 vehicles stopped
- Seven drugs’ lines shut down
- Approximately £12,500 worth of cash seized
- Up to £3,000 worth of drugs seized
- 42 vulnerability checks completed
- 11 safeguarding referrals made, and 200 drug users contacted signposting them to partner support agencies
British Transport Police
- 23 arrests
- 34 operations
- 19 joint operations
- 12 people safeguarded
- 22 drugs seizures
- Nine weapons recovered
- £11,365 in cash seized
South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SWROCU)
More than 30 arrests of people suspected of transporting drugs by road into the region following a SW ROCU-led Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR operation).
- £20k worth of heroin and £16k worth of cocaine from suspected County Line dealers based in the North West stopped in Devon & Cornwall
- £200k worth of cannabis, a knife, thousands of pounds in cash seized as a result of a vehicle stopped in Devon & Cornwall
- £10k heroin and crack cocaine from a vehicle which was travelling to Bournemouth from Merseyside
- £4k class A seized from a vehicle stopped in Gloucestershire
- £20k vehicle stolen from a burglary and a £35k vehicle seized.
Well done to everyone involved from across the region – we really are taking the fight to the criminals! I want to see drugs suppliers caught, more drugs seized and more prosecutions.
Not only does Scorpion aim to make my vision of Dorset becoming the safest county in England and Wales one big step closer, but by working closely with our surrounding counties we are also ensuring the south west is safer for all.