Officers targeting drug related crime in Norfolk have made 13 arrests during a week of action.
A number of warrants were carried out across the county and in London last week under Operation Gravity, Norfolk Constabulary’s campaign against the most serious offenders involved in the dealing and transportation of Class A drugs.
Officers working with the Metropolitan Police made significant arrests in London on Tuesday 28 March. Warrants were executed at addresses in Dagenham and Hackney and three people, two men and one woman, were arrested on suspicion of drugs and money laundering offences and enquiries are on-going.
Four men were arrested on suspicion of drugs offences at an address in Carlton Gardens on Wednesday 29 March.
Officers attended the premises and seized a quantity of Class A drugs and £1,200 in cash.
A man in his 20s and from the London area was arrested on suspicion with possession with intent to supply, whilst a 15-year-old boy from the London area, a man in his 20s from London and a man in his 30s from Norwich, were all arrested on suspicion of supplying a controlled drug.
All four have since been released on police bail pending further enquiries until June.
Three people were arrested in connection with drugs offences in Great Yarmouth on Wednesday 29 March.
Officers attended an address in North Denes Road and seized a quantity of Class A drugs.
A 17-year-old boy from the Ilford area was arrested and has since been charged with possession with intent to supply Class A drugs and being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs.
A woman in her 30s and a man in his 40s, and from the Great Yarmouth area, were both arrested on suspicion of possessing a Class A drug and theft. They have both since been released on police bail pending further enquiries until July.
Officers issued warrants at two addresses in Music House Lane in Norwich on Tuesday 28 March. A large quantity of cash and two mobile phones were seized.
Two men, aged in their 20s and from the Middlesex area, were arrested on suspicion of money laundering offences, whilst a man in his 30s and from the Middlesex area was arrested on suspicion of burglary. All three men have been released on police bail until June.
Operation Gravity was launched in December 2016 as a direct response to an increase in the number of violent offences linked to illegal drugs activity in the county.
Since then officers have arrested 152 people, seized approximately £38,000 worth of Class A drugs and £42,000 in cash. 23 knives have also been seized.
T/Assistant Chief Constable Mike Fawcett said: “Last week saw 100 days since Operation Gravity began. In that time we have made a significant number of arrests, served closure orders in areas where drug dealing activity has been having a detrimental effect on the local community and we have seized thousands of pounds worth of Class A drugs and cash.
“However, we are not going to be complacent and we will continue to make Norfolk a hostile environment for criminals who think they can come into the county to deal drugs.”
Whilst Operation Gravity is targeting criminals travelling into the county involved in drug related crime, a large proportion of the work has been focussed on supporting those vulnerable members of our communities who are being taken advantage of.
Drug dealers use a range of tactics such as violence or exploiting vulnerable individuals including ‘cuckooing’, where dealers take over a person’s home from which they can operate.
They also prey on adolescents, some of which who are already involved in the drugs lifestyle, by getting them to conceal and carry the drugs for them.
Norfolk Constabulary has been working closely with partner agencies throughout Operation Gravity in order to identify those who have become victims of drug dealers and being forced to assist them, whilst signposting them to any support they may need.
T/ACC Mike Fawcett said: “Operation Gravity isn’t just about taking drug dealers off the streets of Norfolk, it is also about dealing with the root cause of the problem.
“We cannot go in with enforcement alone and it is vital that we work with partner agencies to provide support and education to those most vulnerable in our communities to drug use and exploitation.”
Terri Cooper-Barnes, Deputy Service Manager with Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), leads a team of mental health nurses based in the Norfolk Police control room, she said: “By working proactively with the police, we hope to engage with this vulnerable group and encourage them into treatment.
“We want to identify these individuals early and do everything we can to help them access support, and feel that going to speak to them in their own homes is the best way of achieving this. At the same time, we can also carry out a mental health assessment, as many of these people may have an existing condition as well as a drug dependency.
“At a recent event run jointly with the Police, we briefed over 100 members of our staff about Operation Gravity, our progress so far and what we hope to achieve in the future by working together.”
Anyone needing help and support can also contact Norfolk Recovery Partnership (NRP) on 0300 7900 227. NRP provide confidential advice and treatment for adults with drug and alcohol problems, and is run by NSFT, The Matthew Project and The Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust.
Local communities have also had a significant role to play in helping keep the county safe. More than 700 people have called Norfolk Police and quoted Operation Gravity since the beginning of the campaign.
T/ACC Fawcett said: “It is clear that local communities do not – and will not – tolerate drug dealing here in Norfolk. I would like to thank the public for their support of this campaign so far and I would like to reassure residents that we will continue to act on information provided.”
In order to help local residents spot the signs of drug-related activity, Norfolk Police have today launched a poster which gives a step-by-step guide to Operation Gravity. This can be downloaded from the Norfolk Constabulary website and will also be distributed by local officers over the coming weeks.
Mr Fawcett added: “In order to help the public help us, we have come up with a ten-point guide for the public on how to spot the signs of drug dealing, as well as how to identify those vulnerable members of our community who may be at risk of exploitation. We hope this will be a valuable tool in encouraging the public to come forward with any information they have – and they don’t have to give their name as all calls will be treated anonymously.”
T/ACC Fawcett has been leading Operation Gravity as Temporary Assistant Chief Constable but will be handing over the campaign to Chief Superintendent Paul Sanford who will take over as T/ACC this week. Mr Fawcett added: “I am extremely grateful to all our officers, staff and partner agencies for their hard work and I would like to thank them for their commitment to make this campaign a success so far.”
Anyone with information about illegal drugs activity should contact Norfolk Constabulary on 101; however, if you have information but want to stay anonymous you can also contact independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.