Positive results for successful 'Ring of Steel' regional drugs crackdown
Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson has praised the collaborative approach of the PCCs and police forces across the South West as the sixth phase of a regional crackdown on drugs resulted in more than 60 vulnerable adults and children being safeguarded and almost a quarter of a million pounds worth of drugs removed from our streets.
As part of Operation Scorpion, the five PCCs and police forces in the South West region (Avon and Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire), alongside the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SWROCU) and the charity Crimestoppers, worked together to combine resources and put a 'Ring of Steel' across the region to make it an uninhabitable environment for drugs and criminal gangs.
This time its focus was looking at the impact of drugs within our local communities and the intelligence police forces need from people to help disrupt the South West drugs market, dismantle drugs supply networks and arrest those who profit from them.
In total, the operation, which ran from Monday 9 October to Sunday 15 October, achieved the following results from across the region:
94 arrests made
More than £73,000 cash seized
Class A drugs (cocaine and heroin) valued at over £90,000
Class B drugs (cannabis) valued at over £155,000
62 people safeguarded
Five dealer lines disrupted
Weapons seized included a crossbow, several knives, a samurai sword and a set of nunchucks
Numerous assets seized including Rolex watches, cars, laptops, and mobile phones.
Mr Wilkinson said: “Over the past week, we’ve asked our communities at every opportunity to share intelligence with the police and our partner agencies so we can effectively target the drug gangs which ruin the lives of young people and some of our most vulnerable residents.
“To be able to do that, they must be free of the fear of reprisals and safe in the knowledge that the information they give will be listened to, and acted upon swiftly.
Relentless pursuit of criminals
“These results show that we have taken them seriously, we will continue to take them seriously and we will be relentless in the pursuit of our goal to make our region a hostile environment for anyone involved in drug criminality and county lines.
“On behalf of all five Police and Crime Commissioners in the South West, I’d like to reinforce our commitment to continuing this successful partnership, which shows these criminals that there is no place to hide and the South West is no place for drugs.”
Speaking on behalf of the five regional police forces, Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Catherine Roper said: "Operation Scorpion is about combining the resources, intelligence and enforcement powers of all the police forces across the South West to create the most difficult environment for those intent on dealing illegal drugs across our region.
Removing drugs from our streets
"These positive results from last week's activities of arrests and drugs seizures show that we are being effective in disrupting the illegal drugs trade - taking illegal substances off the streets, arresting those who deal them as well as dismantling those criminal gangs and county lines.
"However, equally as important is the work we are doing to protect and help those vulnerable people - often children and young adults - who are exploited to become part of these criminal networks. These victims are usually threatened with violence - and sometimes are even on the receiving end of this violence - which forces them into working for these criminal gangs.
"Safeguarding these vulnerable victims is our priority along with protecting all in our communities. Those living in our neighbourhoods whose lives are very much blighted by this type of criminality which causes misery and harm to the many who live and work in our villages, towns and cities.
"Our work doesn't stop at the end of this operation. We know that those who supply and distribute illegal drugs operate in a borderless way, creating complex networks of drugs lines across the region. We will continue to take a strong and robust stance against this sort of exploitative criminality.
"Our message is clear – the South West is no place for drugs.”
You can report information anonymously to Fearless.org, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their website. Alternatively, you can report concerns to your local police force by calling 101 or visiting the respective Force website.