DEVON & Cornwall Police have been taking part in phase six of the South West's regional Operation Scorpion, after five successful phases.
Operation Scorpion six coincided with the national County Lines Intensification Week, which ran from October 9 to October 15, during which forces have clamped down on county lines activity in communities through various operational activities such as warrant executions, inputs into schools, and safeguarding vulnerable people.
A collaboration between the South West's five police forces (Devon & Cornwall, Dorset, Avon & Somerset, Gloucestershire, and Wiltshire), their respective Police and Crime Commissioners, the 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 in an effort to make the South West a hostile environment for drugs.
The public play an important role in assisting forces to gather valuable intelligence, to assist in detecting unusual or suspicious activity. Sharing information with the police is essential for building an intelligence picture.
Throughout the week, forces asked the public to assist them by reporting intelligence linked to drugs activity – no matter how big or small. Using community intelligence provided, the Force carried out enforcement activities throughout the week, disrupting those who are profiteering from the damage and harm that drugs bring to our communities.
This week of action demonstrated the regional commitment to making the South West a safe place - a hostile environment for illegal drug use and exploitation.
As a result of sound community intelligence and operational focus during the week of action, county lines were disrupted, vulnerable people safeguarded, and educational support was provided to young people and families.
The results are as follows: 36 disruptions; 36 arrests; nine charges; more than £90,000 worth of drugs seized; £54,800 cash seized; 12 mobile phones seized; 14 weapons seized; two vehicles seized; six adults safeguarded and ten children safeguarded.
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Steve Parker said: 'We asked the public to play their part in looking for and reporting signs of drug activity in our neighbourhoods.
'We need their assistance to support our collaborative approach to combating illegal drug supply in our communities.
'Together, we can reinforce the message that drugs have no place in Devon and Cornwall.
'We made several arrests as a result of valuable community intelligence. The public is familiar with their surroundings and can detect unusual or suspicious activity. Sharing this information with police is extremely beneficial to us in developing an intelligence picture.
'This week of action was aimed to demonstrate our collective commitment, across the South West, to make the region a safe place – a hostile environment for illegal drug use and exploitation.'
Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: 'People living in our force area are sick of those using and dealing drugs in our communities.
'Illegal drugs blight the lives of so many, whether it’s children and vulnerable people being exploited by county lines gangs or neighbourhoods made to feel unsafe because of violence and antisocial behaviour linked to drug use.
'Tackling the misery caused by drugs is one of the priorities in my police and crime plan, and so I am pleased to see how successful this operation has been in taking illegal substances, weapons and those who use and deal them off the streets.
'This latest week of action yet again proves how effective partnership working can be in tackling these issues, and I welcome the hard work of everyone who has helped us to the message to those involved in criminal activity that the South West is no place for drugs.'
► If you have concerns about drug use or county lines in your area you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, or report information and intelligence on the Devon & Cornwall Police website: www.dc.police.uk – always call 999 if a crime is in progress.