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14 December 2016, 06:00
Heart’s been told in the last 3 weeks 22 people have been arrested and thousands of pounds of Class A drugs have been seized off the streets of Norfolk.
It comes as police are cracking down on drug related violence across the county.
Operation Gravity, which has run for the past three weeks, looks to target the most serious offenders involved in the dealing and the transportation of Class A drugs around the county and has seen police and partners taking action to prevent such drugs reaching the streets of our towns and villages.
T/ACC Mike Fawcett, who leads on local policing, welcomed the level of activity, saying: "This operation is a direct response to an increase in the number of violent offences linked to illegal drugs activity in the county. This is something we cannot and do not tolerate.
“These arrests are just the beginning and anyone involved in drug related crime should be warned that we won’t be knocking on the door nicely. We intend to give you a wake-up call you won’t forget in a hurry.
“However, Operation Gravity, will not only be about targeting criminals who have been travelling into Norfolk from places such as London but also, equally importantly; it’s about supporting those vulnerable members of our communities who have been taken advantage of.
“Drug dealers use a range of tactics such as violence or exploiting vulnerable individuals by taking over their homes - known as “cuckooing”. They also prey on adolescents, some of whom are already involved in the drugs lifestyle either directly or through their family, by getting them to conceal the drugs. By understanding these tactics it allows officers to target those who have become victims of drug dealers and are being forced to assist them, whilst signposting them to any support they may need.
“We know that to end the cycle of violence we need to support those caught up in this type of criminality and we have to approach these issues from a multitude of angles.”
A multi-agency approach will be key to solving the issue long-term. All partner agencies from Children’s Services, Adult Services and Youth Offending Teams, to the NHS in Norfolk and Waveney, local housing authorities, local councils, landlords and drug rehabilitation organisations will have a role to play to reduce and prevent further drug offences taking place.
Leader of Norfolk County Council, Cliff Jordan, said: “Norfolk County Council is committed to supporting and safeguarding the most vulnerable adults and children in our communities. We are working with the police and other partners to respond to the threats posed by drug dealing groups coming into our county. As well as enforcement activity undertaken by the police, we are ready to support any vulnerable person who has been preyed on by these drug dealers.”
T/ACC Mike Fawcett added “Education and rehabilitation is also important to reduce the demand for drugs across the count and we will provide drug users with guidance and support to end their habit. In addition, we want to help young and vulnerable people by educating them on how to avoid becoming involved in this kind of lifestyle and protect those who are vulnerable from being exploited.”
Chief Superintendent Dave Marshall, County Policing Commander said: "We will not tolerate drug dealing anywhere in the county, especially when this involves making vulnerable people and teenagers do their work for them. Part of offender’s success in keeping the drugs in the county at the moment is to prey on people who are too frightened and afraid to speak up about how they are being abused.
“Local residents also have a vital role to play in keeping Norfolk safe from drug related criminality and we need your help with this too. We want to hear from people in our local communities who can identify houses where vulnerable people are being used by drug dealers or have other information. If you notice something suspicious or unusual activity in your block of flats, street or local area or you notice strangers coming and going into a property at all times of the night, then speak to your local safer neighbourhood team or the charity Crimestoppers anonymously.”