Earlier this month, we took part in a crackdown on county lines and drugs criminality by the South West’s five regional police forces. During the week of Monday 9 October to Sunday 15 October, our officers carried out numerous warrants and activities resulting in:
- 21 arrests made
- Nine adults and children safeguarded.
- £236,000 of drugs seized, comprising of:
- Cannabis to the value of £155,200
- Cocaine to the value of £76,800
- Heroin to the value of £4,000
- £44,000 in cash seized.
While enforcement activity took place across Avon and Somerset, sending a clear message that the South West is no place for drugs, our neighbourhood policing teams carried out engagement events. Officers and staff worked with schools and communities to raise awareness of what exploitation looks like and carried out welfare checks on vulnerable children and young adults.
Working across borders to counter drug harm
This is the sixth operation that Avon and Somerset Police has taken part in alongside the five police forces in the south west (Avon and Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire), their respective offices of Police and Crime Commissioners, the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SW ROCU) and the charity Crimestoppers. The week of action involved a coordinated operation, combining resources, intelligence and enforcement powers and working together to make the region a hostile environment for those who deal in drugs.
Overall, more than 90 arrests were made, 62 vulnerable children and adults were safeguarded and several drug lines in the region were disrupted, conveying the message to those profiteering from drugs that there is nowhere for them to deal or to hide in the south west.
Public information contributed to operation’s success
Detective Inspector Angela Burtonwood said: “We embarked on this operation with a clear intent to educate on, advise and stop dealers from using children and vulnerable people, whether in transporting drugs, holding cash, or running phone lines. We employed a range of tactics – from patrolling our transport hubs and roads to offering support from drugs agencies to those we believe are buying drugs – and ultimately stopped drug dealers quite literally in their tracks, seizing their vehicles and proceeds of crime.
“Those who have profited from drug criminality will be brought to justice. Meanwhile our work in educating children, parents, communities, and partners means greater awareness of how those dealers groom and prey on others and of the help that exists for those caught up in situations from which they want to escape.”
“We use information from our communities, together with intelligence work from our teams, to help build a picture of where drug criminality is happening. From this, we can target those who are bringing drugs into our communities, exploiting our young people and taking over the lives of some of our most vulnerable residents, all for personal gain. We also work hard to protect those who are vulnerable to being targeted and drawn into this type of criminal activity.
“We urge the public to keep sharing information with us, as we are committed to carrying out this type of work not only in weeks of action, but every day of the year. Our dedicated County Lines team, working with colleagues from response, patrol, neighbourhoods, intelligence, operational support, and many other departments, have many more drug criminals in their sights. A single piece of information that someone might not be sure is important enough to share, could be the piece that helps us complete the picture and have the evidence to take more dealers off our streets.”
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Shelford said: “Avon and Somerset Police officers and staff have been busy leading operational activity which has not only resulted in criminals and drugs being taken off our streets, but also vulnerable individuals being safeguarded and given support from relevant partners.
“I am proud of the partnership approach being taken by the five south west regional police services to raise awareness of the signs of county lines and disrupt many of the criminals involved who operate across boundaries.
“The independent charity CrimeStoppers play an important role in this work, highlighting signs and indicators of county lines drug dealing to increase public awareness and reporting, whilst offering reassurance that their anonymous reporting services is available to anyone with information on crime – a way of giving information without revealing their identity.
“Together we can ensure that the South West is No Place For Drugs.”
We encourage people to report any suspicions relating to drug crime to us on 101 (always 999 in an emergency or when a crime is in progress) or to submit information online at Report | Avon and Somerset Police.
People can also report anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or online at https://crimestoppers-uk.org. The Fearless website, also part of Crimestoppers, gives access to non-judgemental information and advice about crime and criminality.