Suffolk Constabulary has taken part in a national week of action against the on-going threat of County Lines.
During the week, Suffolk Constabulary along with other forces conducted arrests and warrants, organising dedicated patrols, and gathering intelligence across the county to ensure that the force continues to make Suffolk a hostile environment for criminals to operate in.
As part of the week of action officers made 11 arrests for a variety of offences as part of the week’s efforts.
Among those arrested included:
A 16 year old male arrested in Bury St Edmunds in The Vinefields area on suspicion of possession of class a drugs with intent to supply. He was subsequently bailed.
In Bury St Edmunds on Tues 15 Sept four people were arrested in the Lake Avenue area of the town on suspicion of possession of class A drugs with intent to supply. A 24 year old man, a 45 year old man, a 24 year old and a 36 year old woman were all taken to Bury St Edmunds Police Investigation Centre for questioning and released under investigation pending further enquiries.
Else where in the county Police arrested a 17 year old male in Ipswich on Tue 15 Sept in Prospect Street on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon. He was arrested and taken to Martlesham Police Investigation Centre (PIC) for questioning and released under investigation.
On Thursday 17 September late morning two males were arrested at a property on Newham Court in Ipswich. Officers had cause to conduct a warrant and recovered a large quantity of cash and a large amount of drug paraphernalia from the property. A 17 year old male and 23 year old male were both arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of drugs. After being taken to Martlesham Heath PIC they were both released on bail to answer on 10 October.
On Sunday 20 September, a 16 year old male was arrested outside Ipswich train station on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of drugs and money laundering after he was found in possession of a large quantity of cash. He was released on police bail pending further enquiries.
Additionally, the force conducted a wide number of welfare visits to 20 properties where police understood the residents to be victims of ‘cuckooing’* with 26 vulnerable individuals engaged with.
Nine search warrants were executed during the week with a total of £800 cash recovered with cocaine, amphetamines and cannabis also recovered and seized, along with four weapons.
At Ipswich train station in an operation led by British Transport Police, police made use of a weapons arch at the station to ensure members of the public were not carrying knives or offensive weapons. No weapons were discovered and no arrests were required.
Other activity conducted included proactive patrols around train stations in Newmarket, Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket, as well uniform and plain clothed patrols.
Officers also linked in with local hotels and B and Bs to provide factsheets and provide awareness information to identify suspicious activity that could be associated with County Lines activity on their business premises as well as with taxi businesses to alert them to activity such as young passengers going on frequent, long journeys.
A day of action was also held at Copdock Tesco car park in Ipswich on Thursday 17 September in conjunction with other partner agencies such as Trading Standards and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority. 51 vehicles were checked, with 12 leaving the site clear of faults, while two arrests were made – one for suspected cannabis possession and the second was for breach of a court order. 45 traffic offence reports were issued and two vehicles were seized.
Police have also been liaising with housing partnerships on the issue of cuckooing* and providing advice for landlords and tenants as to the signs to look for. The force’s school liaison officers and youth engagement teams have also been busy engaging with schools and colleges with advice, leaflets and talks.
Weapon sweeps were also conducted in various areas, including the Maple Park area of Ipswich and Langer Park in Felixstowe, to recover any easy to reach or concealed items that could be used for violent offences.
T/Chief Superintendent Marina Ericson said: “It’s important to point out that although the past week saw dedicated activity, our work to address the issue of County Lines and drug supply is something we tackle all year round.
“County Lines causes misery for communities and we continue to put significant effort into identifying and arresting those involved. We are determined to shine a spotlight on and bring to justice those running these toxic drug networks.
“The situation remains that while our enforcement continues, this is not an issue we can tackle alone, as indicated by our engagement work outlined above. Local agencies, charities, partners, schools, parents all need to help us protect the most vulnerable in our communities.
“I am very proud to see the impact Suffolk Constabulary has had – working with the National Crime Agency and neighbouring police forces to ensure we tackle County Lines from every angle bring these criminals to justice.”
Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said, “Suffolk Constabulary is most certainly punching above its weight in its dealing with County Lines. I am very pleased to see the very positive outcome of this national week of action – the impressive results speak for themselves.
“County Lines is a huge issue nationally and it definitely requires a partnership approach at national regional and local levels, working with other police forces and local councils and partners. I am very proud of Suffolk’s collective approach to this dreadful issue which wrecks lives and causes misery to communities.
“I’d like to publicly thank the Constabulary for their relentless commitment to these appalling crimes and even with the challenges they face due to Covid, their dedication to keeping drug off our streets continues unabated.”
He added, “I will continue to do what I can through my PCC Fund to financially support organisations which help to keep young people out of trouble and away from the dangers of drugs.”
Paul West, Cabinet member for Ipswich, Communities and Waste at Suffolk County Council, said: “Suffolk welcomes the opportunity for all partners to work together to tackle criminal exploitation, including county lines and drug dealing.
“Enforcement is an important part of our collective effort to stop the harm this causes the most vulnerable in our communities, alongside prevention and intervention. This continues to be a top priority for the Safer Stronger Communities Board with commitment from all partner organisations to work together to tackle this important issue.”