Tackling serious and organised crime

A new South West police team has been launched.

The Zephyr group sees officers from all forces in the region, including Gloucestershire, teaming up to tackle serious and organised crime.

Their aim is to gather intelligence, crack serious and organised crime networks and seize the assets of the criminals involved.

The Home Office is supporting the creation of Zephyr with a one off grant of £440,000 to help fund the set-up costs.  

Colin Port, Chief Constable of lead force, Avon and Somerset, said:

"We are absolutely determined to dismantle, disrupt and destroy serious organised crime in the south west and those based elsewhere that harm our communities.  Working more closely together with police colleagues and partners across the region, Zephyr will challenge and crack the perceived power of these criminal groups and destroy their financial base.  

"Criminal groups are fluid, flexible and opportunistic and we will not allow them to destroy our communities. Public safety is of paramount importance to us.  We want communities across the region to feel confident about coming forward to help identify these crime networks, secure in the knowledge that we'll do something about it."

One of the Zephyr teams, the regional asset recovery team (RART), becomes operational today . The RART is a multi-agency team of police officers drawn from the region's five police forces, working alongside financial investigators, HM Revenue and Customs investigators, the court service, and a dedicated CPS lawyer. It is one of nine regional RARTs funded by the Home Office to target the assets of organised criminals to ensure that crime doesn't pay.

Head of the South West RART, DCI Mark Power, said:

"We will be working with other agencies to tackle organised criminals and seize criminal assets.

"We will actively target those individuals who are living a cash rich lifestyle well beyond any legitimate income.  The RART will utilise financial investigation skills, techniques and legislation to enhance the quality of investigations into organised crime, disrupt organised criminality, protect communities and build public trust and confidence in the criminal justice system".

Zephyr will be fully operational by 1 September 2010