Crackdown on drug-dealing in Ipswich leads to 250 arrests in two years

Supt Kerry Cutler of Suffolk Constabulary.

Supt Kerry Cutler of Suffolk Constabulary. - Credit: Archant

A police-led community crackdown aimed at driving inner-city drug gangs out of Ipswich has led to around 250 arrests in two years.

Detective Inspector Matt Connick

Detective Inspector Matt Connick - Credit: Archant

Operation Volcanic began in June 2014. By last month 232 suspects had been arrested, resulting in heroin and crack cocaine valued at just under £200,000 being seized from street dealers.

More arrests have also been made in the last week. The latest came early on Sunday when two men and a woman suspected of being dealers were arrested in Ipswich town centre.

Although police stressed total success can only be truly measured by the complete eradication of drugs within the community, they are encouraged by the successes they have achieved in the past two years. The multi-agency approach has not only led to arrests, jail terms, and the seizure of drugs, it has also helped to protect vulnerable adults and children preyed upon by the drug gangs.

Officers believe up to 15 organised crime groups are operating in Ipswich at the moment.


Cocaine - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Detective Inspector Matt Connick, who leads Operation Volcanic, pledged to continue the war on dealers with the help of the borough council, other organisations, businesses and the community,

He said: “We are incredibly determined. We know what links there are between the use of Class A drugs and burglary, robbery and violent crime.

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“It is really at the centre of our policing operation in Ipswich and it’s been a priority for some considerable period of time.

“This is really about making Ipswich and the wider are places that are difficult for drug dealers to operate in through a consistent approach against Class A drugs.

“There is a large demand for Class A drugs in Ipswich and I think that is why we still see the problem persisting.

“Where there is a demand the suppliers will try to come here.

“We are trying as best we can to take enforcement action as much as we can.”

The number of drug gangs in the town can fluctuate. Some might even split into smaller groups.

Det Insp Connick added: “The latest figures are anywhere between 10 to 15 drug-dealing groups. They can range in size between local operations and organized drug-dealing groups from London or elsewhere in the country.”

Three suspected dealers were detained after being spotted in Falcon Street early on Sunday.

Anne-Marie Breach, a spokeswoman for Suffolk Constabulary, said: “A quantity of what was believed to be Class A drugs was recovered.

“A 23-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman from Luton and a 22-year-old man from east London were arrested at 4.50am on suspicion of possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply.

“All three have been bailed to return to police on August 26.“

Ipswich’s top police officer is encouraged by the pioneering approach of Operation Volcanic which has brought various aspects of the community together in an attempt to break the chain.

Superintendent Kerry Cutler also believes while enforcement is vital, it is also important to acknowledge those in the grip of addictions or who are vulnerable to manipulation by the drug gangs.

She said: “We have seen significant successes using our policing tactics in tackling the supply of heroin and crack cocaine in Ipswich.

“But it is also about safeguarding those people, particularly the young, who are at risk of exploitation through drugs. This includes whether it is through use or being involved in the supply of drugs.

“We have also seen a significant number of arrests and convictions at court. But what we have also seen, which doesn’t make headlines and is not quantifiable, is the work with our partner agencies to safeguard vulnerable people, whether its is down to drug abuse, mental health issues, or children by removing them from the people who are using them to supply drugs.

“I think the key is working with other agencies. Policing alone will not tackle the problem of drugs.

“We can continue to target those who supply drugs, but unless we support the individuals affected and remove them from the grip of drugs we are not going to solve the problem.

“For every drug dealer we effectively take out another one comes along, For every child or vulnerable adult we protect there is another one we don’t know about and we need to find out about.

“We don’t have a London drug culture, but we do have an issue of people coming into the county to deal or supply to local people.

“By being open with partners and forming new partnerships, even with the hotel trade and media, we become better able to identify problems and seek more sustainable solutions.

“I would like to thank my staff, those from within the voluntary sector and other partner agencies who have worked on Operation Volcanic and continue to do so.”

Supt Cutler also assured residents who come forward with information that it is all acted on but may not be straightaway as officers have to take action when the impact will be the greatest.

Anyone whose life has been affected by drugs and needs help should telephone Turning Point on 0300 123 0872.

If you have information which could help police, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or contact your Safer Neighbourhood Team through Suffolk Constabulary’s website.

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