Five regional PCCs join together to make the south west a 'hostile place for drugs'
Tackling drug-related crime, rooting out dealers and disrupting supplies of drugs onto Wiltshire’s streets has been the direct result of a regional, co-ordinated, campaign led by the south west region’s Police and Crime Commissioners.
The five PCCs – from Wiltshire, Devon and Cornwall, Dorset, 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 five PCCs, and their respective Forces, have joined together 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, and meant criminals will be under no illusion the south west is #NoPlaceForDrugs.
Wiltshire PCC Philip Wilkinson has always been clear that drug crime isn’t just a problem for urban police forces. Since taking office, he has been listening to concerns and visited several communities where drug crime, and related anti-social behaviour, blights daily lives.
Mr Wilkinson said: “I have heard, loud and clear, how Wiltshire’s residents are sick to the death of the drug dealers operating in our communities – destroying their daily lives and making it impossible, on occasion, for ordinary lives to continue. The knock-on effects of drug dealers in communities can make life unbearable.
“We are going after those dealers embedded in our communities and we are going to make their lives so uncomfortable they no longer see Wiltshire as a soft option for their criminality.
“The message is really simple: we are going to make the SW a hostile environment for all drug dealers.
“This renewed focus and targeting is a direct result of the new commitment from the south west’s PCCs to tackle drug-related crime and associated anti-social behaviour in their communities.
“Not only are we Making Wiltshire Safer by working closely with the police forces from our surrounding counties but we are also ensuring the south west is safer too.”
Drug-related crime and ASB was a key concern for residents across Wiltshire who took part in the PCC’s Use Your Voice consultation, which informed his latest police and crime plan.
Making Wiltshire Safer, launched last week, and Priority 2: Reduce violence and serious harm and Priority 3: Tackle crimes that matter to local communities underlines the strategic focus which Wiltshire Police will give to continuing to disrupt drug supplies, robustly dealing with criminals and ridding Wiltshire’s streets of drugs.
Wiltshire Police operations included: targeted roads policing activity, warrants executed based upon community intelligence, seized drugs, weapons and cash made from drug-related activity, criminals arrested, charged and remanded to prison, addiction services and rehabilitation offered to addicts.
This was in addition to as awareness raising of how to spot young people being exploited by criminal gangs and identifying those vulnerable people in our community who may be victims of cuckooing by gangs.
Mr Wilkinson added: "Key to the success of this work, and the targeting of ongoing police operations, is the intelligence gathered and given to us by our communities. Wiltshire Police need to know where this criminality is happening and they will take action."
All five PCCs spoke with Crime and Policing Minister Kit Malthouse MP in London last week (14th). 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 Home Office's Beating Crime Plan.
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.”