Last week I and some other local councillors were able to accompany the police on an operation where they searched sixteen properties and arrested 13 people. The activity, whilst centred in the North East, stretched far beyond our area, demonstrating that, as always, crime is no respecter of county boundaries and police force areas, and how important it is that police forces and communities take a wider view.
For me the main message of the day was that the operation was only possible because of the information given to the police by ordinary citizens in local communities. It’s the police’s job to link that information together to make the broader picture, but without the reports from you and me when we see or hear something suspicious, they cannot carry out their role in protecting us and our society from the harm criminals do.
We may live in one of the safest areas in the country – we do live in one of the safest areas in the country – but it will only remain that way if we work together to keep it that way.
Here’s the police’s account of the operation.
On Wednesday 30th January over 200 Police Officers and Support Staff were involved in the ‘strike phase’ of an organised crime group operating within the force area. The crime group have been responsible for the ongoing supply of large quantities of Cocaine and Class ‘B’ drugs within Durham and the Northumbria force areas.
On the morning of the 30th, 16 addresses were searched and 13 subjects arrested from Durham, Northumbria, Cheshire, Merseyside, West Yorks and Manchester force areas, led by the the forces Specialist Crime Operational Unit. On Friday 1st February, 12 subjects appeared before North Durham Magistrates, charged with offences of Conspiracy to supply Class ‘A’, Class ‘B’ and Money Laundering offences. Six of the subjects were remanded into custody.
During the last 11 months, the forces Specialist Crime Ops Unit has secured charges against 32 principal subjects for serious drug offences and money laundering, 7 of which are serving custodial sentences of 32 years in total. In addition, drugs in excess of two million pounds and cash totalling £227,000 has been recovered from the crime groups.