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  • Writer's pictureNikki Latham

Collaborative action impacts drugs gangs across the South West

More than £800,000 worth of drugs and 267 weapons have been taken off the streets in the seventh iteration of an initiative designed to create a ‘ring of steel’ around the South West.

A collaboration between police forces in Dorset, Devon & Cornwall, Avon & Somerset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, their respective Police and Crime Commissioners, British Transport Police, the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SW ROCU), and the charity Crimestoppers, Operation Scorpion focuses on pooling resources to combat drug supply in the region to make the South West a hostile environment for drugs.

Police across the South West have actively engaged in this latest stage of Operation Scorpion, intensifying efforts to dismantle drug supply networks and create an inhospitable environment for criminals. Through collaborative and targeted initiatives, the aim was to support local communities in the South West, working with them to tackle drug related activity across the region and make the South West a hostile environment for drugs.

The seventh phase of Operation Scorpion seamlessly aligned with the National County Lines Intensification Week, spanning from March 4, 2024, to March 10, 2024. The focus of this phase was targeting visible street dealing and the impact of drug activity within our local communities. It was highlighting the importance of intelligence from local people to help police support communities and to demonstrate the metaphoric ring of steel around the South West – making it harder for criminals to cross borders in the South West to conduct crime.

During the week police cracked down on drugs activities through a multifaceted approach including targeted warrant executions, visible policing in hotspot areas, address checks known to have been linked to cuckooing, patrols along the travel networks of the South West and robust efforts to safeguard vulnerable individuals.

Using valuable community intelligence, forces executed targeted enforcement activities, strategically disrupting individuals who exploit and profit from the harmful impact drugs have on local communities. This collaborative initiative demonstrates the relentless shared commitment to protect communities against those determined to bring harm.

Across Devon & Cornwall, this led to:

Drugs seized (monetary value): £370,000

Cash seized: £20,000

Tobacco and vapes seized (monetary value) - £500,000

People safeguarded: 73

Arrests: 28

Weapons seized: 10

Lines disrupted: 1

Stephen Parker, Assistant Chief Constable Devon & Cornwall Police said: “Last week Devon & Cornwall Police took part in the regional Op Scorpion campaign against drugs and also in the national  County Lines Intensification Week.  Our results demonstrate to the public that we are proactive in making Devon and Cornwall #NoPlaceForDrugs.  However, these periods of intensified activity are just a snapshot of the work that we do all year round.
“The intelligence we receive from the public highlights the importance of working with our communities, both in receiving information from the public and then acting on it to safeguard them. We couldn’t do what we do without help from the public. 
“What may seem to be an irrelevant or unimportant piece of information can provide an essential piece of the jigsaw to help police seek out and remove drugs from our streets, disrupt county lines and protect vulnerable people. We urge the public to continue reporting anything suspicious or unusual where they live.” 
Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly added: “This phase of Operation Scorpion has yet again shown that there's a need for high levels of enforcement in our community to take drugs off our streets to protect people who are being exploited and to make people realise that police are acting on the things they think are important to them.
“All of the phases of Scorpion, including this one, have shown how many people need to be protected and safeguarded from exploitation by criminals, and police officers are bringing in every resource they possibly can to show that we mean business when we say we want to rid the South West of drugs.
“We are showing how important it is to work as a team and move together as a team to make a real difference in tackling drugs in the South West, which means less people are likely to take some drugs in our communities for fun. Operation Scorpion is here to remind people that these drugs are illegal, and to help the community who are sick and tired of seeing drugs being dealt persistently and consistently in their communities.”
Anyone with information about illegal drugs activity should report it to their local police service online or via 101. Always call 999 in an emergency.

Alternatively you can pass information anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers. They are available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year on 0800 555 111 or you can use their non-traceable online form. Contact will remain 100% anonymous. Always.

They will never ask for a name or contact details and the phone call or online report will never be traced. If the information supplied leads to an arrest and charge, there could be a cash reward of up to £1,000.

This news story has been produced by Chesil Radio's News Team, for more information please visit:

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