In a significant new approach, Avon and Somerset Police have teamed up with other police services across the South West to combine their operational powers in tackling cross border drugs supply.
Operation Scorpion took place from the 7th March. In Avon and Somerset alone this resulted in:
- 64 arrests relating to drugs offences, warrants and stop checks
- 17 warrants carried out in relation to properties and people linked to drugs supply
- 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. The addresses were identified through Avon and Somerset Police’s intelligence work and information shared by our partners. Several of the people visited have been subjected to cuckooing* in the past
- 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, The One25 Project, drug and alcohol 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
Across the South West region this contributed to a total of 194 arrests, 55 warrants being carried out, 320 vulnerability visits and safeguarding referrals being made, and 400 drug line disruptions, as well as hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of cash and suspected drugs being seized.
The five regional police services (Avon and Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire), alongside their respective offices of Police and Crime Commissioners, the British Transport Police, South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SW ROCU) and the charity Crimestoppers, set aside regional boundaries, just as criminals engaging in drugs activity do, to harness their collective power and disrupt the South West drugs market, dismantling drugs supply networks and arresting those who profit from them.
Coinciding activity with the National County Lines Intensification Week led by the National County Lines Coordination Centre (NCLCC), police officers used a range of tactics including enhanced surveillance of the road and transport networks, increased high visibility patrols in areas of high demand, carrying out warrants at addresses used for drug dealing and welfare checks on vulnerable people.
“The results from this collective action speak for themselves and show what can be achieved when a borderless approach to drugs enforcement is taken.
“By coming together collectively in this way, we send a strong message to criminals and those who exploit young and vulnerable people in Avon and Somerset that we will find you, we will follow you and we won’t stop until we’ve got you and that the South West is no place for drugs.”PCC Mark Shelford
“This operation allowed us to combine resources, intelligence and enforcement powers with our colleagues in other areas of the South West in a strategic way, sending a clear message to organised criminals and those who cause harm in our communities, that there is no place for them in our region.
“Going hand in hand with this important enforcement work is the work of safeguarding vulnerable people who find themselves caught up in the misery of drug use and / or supply, through no fault of their own. Across Avon and Somerset we work with a number of different partner agencies to help these people to access treatment and support. We also carry out educational and diversionary initiatives with schools, youth organisations and our Violence Reduction Units to ensure that young people are aware of the signs of grooming and exploitation and how to get help if they need it.”Avon and Somerset Police’s lead for Serious Violence and County Lines Superintendent James Raphael
Anyone with information about illegal drugs activity should report it online at www.avonandsomerset.police.uk or via 101. Always call 999 in an emergency.
To pass on information anonymously, speak to the independent charity Crimestoppers 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year on 0800 555 111 or use their non-traceable online form. Contact will remain 100% anonymous. Always. They will never ask for a name or contact details and the phone call or online report will never be traced. If the information supplied leads to an arrest and charge, there could be a cash reward of up to £1,000.