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'Scum' cartel bosses will be 'hounded out' as drug lines into Suffolk halve

PUBLISHED: 06:00 29 January 2019 | UPDATED: 09:00 29 January 2019

Officers from Suffolk police carry out a drug raid in Ipswich  Picture: KAREN WILLIE

Officers from Suffolk police carry out a drug raid in Ipswich Picture: KAREN WILLIE

KAREN WILLIE

Police appear to be winning the battle against a drug distribution network dubbed the biggest criminal threat to Suffolk.

Gareth Wilson, Chief Constable of Suffolk Constabulary  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNGareth Wilson, Chief Constable of Suffolk Constabulary Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Chief Constable Gareth Wilson said people could expect more “boots through doors” policing after the number of ‘county lines’ running into Suffolk was more than halved from a peak of 43 to 19 over the past 12 to 18 months.

Addressing the Police and Crime Panel, Gareth Wilson said the constabulary’s Scorpion team, set up in 2015 to disrupt criminal activity, had risen to the challenge of county lines in which urban dealers establish new rural markets with a single phone line operated from outside the area.

Mr Wilson, who retires as chief constable in April, told the panel that enhanced use of technology had helped gain information to crack down on dealers.

“We now have enhanced ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) to work on county lines intelligence,” he added.

Tim Passmore, Suffolk's Police and Crime Commissioner described the scheme as exciting  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNTim Passmore, Suffolk's Police and Crime Commissioner described the scheme as exciting Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“It allows us to take the fight to the villain; to execute warrants and control the road networks, as well as ancillary railway stations.

“You’ll be seeing more headlines with police putting boots through doors to bring people to justice.”

Mr Wilson said greater public engagement, following the movement of 104 officers into safer neighbourhood teams last October, would enable even more local intelligence sharing.

Last March, the Suffolk Public Sector Leaders group pledged £500,000 in pooled business rates income for a multi-agency team to combat dealing and gang violence.

Meanwhile, three police community support officers are employed to co-ordinate the constabulary’s school engagement programme and nine community engagement officers have been in place since last June.

The work of St Giles Trust also includes mentoring support to young Ipswich people at risk of being exploited by drug gangs.

Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore added: “I still believe this to be the most serious threat facing Suffolk.

“There has been a lot of progress to find a solution to get rid of this problem once and for all. It’s a utopian outlook, I accept, but we have to keep this up.

“The constabulary’s track record has been extraordinary. County lines have dropped from 40 to 20 and our message to the evil, barbaric leaders of these cartels is that they will be hounded out by rigorous enforcement. They are the scum of the earth.”

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