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See, hear, speak – the importance of community intelligence

During a three-day operation in July 2016, we arrested 67 people and executed 38 search warrants targeting drug dealing in Somerset and North Somerset.

A large amount of the information that shaped the nine month investigation leading up to the operation came from the local community.

This July (2017) we have undertaken a day of action in Taunton, and so far 23 people have been arrested during 15 search warrants.

Similarly, an operation in Bristol in November 2015 was instigated largely by information that came directly from local residents. Over 70 people were arrested and have received prison sentences that combined, totaled over 200 years.


Chief Superintendent Ian Wylie

Chief Superintendent Ian Wylie said: “I cannot stress enough how vitally important information from the public is to policing.

"We work hard with our partners to tackle the issues that our communities are saying cause them the most concern. Drug-dealing is understandably one of them. It brings with it anti-social behaviour, other criminality in the form of theft, burglary - sometimes violence and the drugs themselves ruin people and tear families apart.

“Drug dealers also tend to exploit the more vulnerable members of our communities - those with drug dependency, young people, or those with debt for example. We want to protect and support those who need our help.

“We have to work together to effectively deal with these issues and find long-term, sustainable solutions. Operations such as those run in July, are the first stage of tackling these problems and we couldn’t do them without intelligence supplied by local residents. You, the public, are our eyes and ears.

“It is so important to us that we are trialing “Community Intelligence Boxes” in Bridgwater. We have set up four drops in different locations, where people can fill in postcards with their intel’ and leave them in the boxes. If these prove to be successful we might roll them out across the area.”

If you have information about any suspected criminal or suspicious activity in your area, you can report it to us directly by speaking to a police officer, by calling the 101 number or reporting it online via our website.

In the last year we have processed 48,434 intelligence reports. Those pieces of information come directly from the public via 101, the website and our officers. But if you don’t feel comfortable speaking to us, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers.

Gordon Chisholm

Gordon Chisholm, Regional Manager for West Country Crimestoppers, said: “Many people think that we are just part of the police or a TV programme. But in fact, we are an independent charity which allows anyone to pass on information about crime anonymously. You could say that we are the middle ground between the public and the police.

“There are two ways to give information to Crimestoppers, either via our website or by phone. You will go through to our call centre - not the police. We cannot trace or record any calls and we never ask for your name, where you live and no one will ever know where the information came from. You could qualify for a financial reward if your information leads to an arrest and charge, which is also done anonymously with a code.

“After taking the information, we sanitise it to make sure it cannot be traced, before sending it to the police, there is NO risk to the person giving that information.


“Locals often know who is committing crime in their area and they know how it can affect their community. But you can help make your neighbourhood a safer place by passing on information!”

C/Supt Wylie added: “Please keep talking to us. Help us to help you – with drug crime, burglary and other issues. We have to work together. You know your local area well. You know the “rhythm” of the street you live in, and so you know when someone or something is out of place.

“If you see something that doesn’t seem quite right, even if you can’t quite put your finger on why, be a good witness - make a note of the details and get in touch with us or Crimestoppers. It might seem insignificant to you, but for us it could be the missing piece of a very big puzzle. You could help lead to the next 67 drug dealers being taken off the street!”

What are the signs of potential drug dealing:

  • Lots of visitors, who don’t stay very long, arriving at all times of the day and night
  • People waiting in cars outside particular properties exchanging small packets or cash
  • Lots of visitors bringing items such as T.V's or bikes but leaving empty handed
  • Lone/vulnerable neighbours suddenly having groups of young men living at their address

What do we want to know:

  • Time, date and place
  • Vehicle registrations and the make, model and colour
  • Descriptions of people and details of what they were doing
  • Direction they travelling to and from
  • How many times you have seen them – is it always at the same time of day?


Between April 2015 and February 2016, calls to Crimestoppers in the Avon and Somerset Police area led to:

  • £85,654 worth of stolen property, cars and cash recovered
    • 28 arrests/charges including
  • 6 – possession of weapons
  • 2 – drink driving
  • 3 – theft
  • 3 – burglary
    • Recovery of guns/knives

Between April ‘16 and June ‘16 alone, Crimestoppers information has led to:

  • £3460 worth of drugs seized
  • £1,045 worth of property recovered
  • 10 arrests