Don’t join drug gangs, young people told as organised crime crackdown is extended

Police are appealing for help to find three men in connection with the incident Picture: Sarah Lucy

Police are appealing for help to find three men in connection with the incident Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown - Credit: Archant

A passionate appeal has been made to young people at risk of joining gangs which deal drugs and steal cars, as part of an extended police crackdown to disrupt organised crime.

Essex Police launched Operation Overwatch in July in a bid to stamp out organised crime in Chelmsford and Maldon.

During a series of “concentrated days of action”, they stopped 29 vehicles and seized five cars, as well as searching 39 of the 97 people they stopped and arresting 17.

The force began a second wave of the operation on Friday, October 19, saying: “These concentrated days of action, running until October 24, will see teams across the district taking part in activity to dismantle the work of local organised crime groups.”

High-visibility patrols will take place across the two areas, with Maldon’s Promenade area seeing an increased police presence during the weekend.

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Mobile police stations are also being set up for people to raise their concerns about organised crime and speak to officers if they need help.

But officers also took the opportunity to make a direct appeal to impressionable young people thinking of becoming involved in gangs, urging them not to embark on a life of crime.

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One particular concern of many rural forces is ‘county lines’ dealers, who travel from big cities like London to ply their trade in areas such as Suffolk and Essex.

Writing on Twitter, Inspector Nikki Gander - from the Chelmsford Local Policing Team - said: “Following on from the success of Operation Overwatch this summer, we’re keen to dedicate more time to disrupting organised criminal activity - from county lines to car thefts - across Chelmsford and Maldon.

“We want to make it very clear - the lifestyle that criminals lead isn’t something to aspire to.

“Our message to young people involved in these gangs would be to seek help from us this week.

“This summer’s operation saw three teenagers referred to the youth offending team, which shows it’s not too late to leave this way of life.

“Your options don’t have to be a prison cell or an unthinkably sad scenario for your family and friends.

“If you, or someone you love, is involved in organised criminal activity, please visit one of our mobile police stations this week, speak to us on 101 or visit”

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