Drug arrests in Essex increased by 76% during coronavirus pandemic
- Credit: Essex Police
Essex saw the third-highest increase in drug arrests in the country during the Covid-19 pandemic, a report has revealed.
The number of drug-related arrests made by Essex Police officers jumped from 4,111 pre-pandemic to 7,261 in 2020/21, according to government statistics.
In percentage terms, the drug arrests in Essex rose by 76.6% during the coronavirus pandemic, leaving the county only behind Cleveland (83.4%) and Leicestershire (83.6%) across the whole of the UK.
The figures, analysed by drug rehabilitation clinic Delamere, also showed that Cambridgeshire saw the fifth-highest increase in drug arrests from 1,349 pre-pandemic to 2,168 in 2020/21 (60.7%).
At the end of 2021, Essex Police revealed the Operation Raptor North team which targets county lines operators in areas such as Colchester, Harwich, and Clacton had secured jail sentences of 212-and-a-half years for 50 convicted drug dealers.
The force said it has been consistent in its approach that drug dealers "are not welcome in Essex", and has specialist teams in place to tackle drug dealing.
A spokesman for Essex Police said: "Drug use and drug supply cannot be solved by policing alone and we work very closely with our partners to address those issues.
"In Essex, we have specialist, proactive teams in place which use a variety of tactics to ensure those who are concerned in the supply of drugs into Essex are caught, charged and put before the courts.
"Our Serious Violence Unit (SVU) was set up to specifically target drug supply and drug-driven violence in Essex.
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"The work the teams carry out has a direct impact on drug operations which prey upon vulnerable people in our communities. We disrupt them and we disrupt their business.
"We have been consistent; drug dealing, and drug dealers, are not welcome in Essex. If you think you won’t get caught and you’re above the law, you’re wrong.
"In actual fact, you will be oblivious to our teams mounting cases containing overwhelming evidence against you and it is likely you will have few options but to admit your guilt when we put you in front of a court."