Imported packages containing weapons and drugs seized under new system
PUBLISHED: 09:04 17 November 2020 | UPDATED: 16:20 17 November 2020
More than 120 imported packages containing weapons and drugs have been intercepted by police in the past nine months under a new project.
Essex Police and Border Force have been working together on a faster referral system for dealing with drugs, prohibited weapons and firearms components which are flown into the UK via a postal hub near Heathrow.
The project – called Operation Gloss – has been highlighted for praise by home secretary and Witham MP Priti Patel.
UK Border Force staff identify suspicious packages that come in via international mail and pass them to Essex Police for investigation.
Ms Patel said: “Knife crime and serious violence wreak havoc in our communities, which is why we are giving police forces more resources and powers to keep the public safe.
“Action like Operation Gloss, along with the wider efforts of police, Border Force and other law enforcement agencies, are vital when it comes to stopping dangerous weapons reaching our streets.”
MORE: Rise in cautions and convictions for knife and weapon offences
Since the new referral system started in February, Essex Police has received 123 notifications about suspicious packages, with 67 containing weapons and 56 containing drugs.
Detective Chief Inspector Lewis Basford, of the serious violence unit, said: “Ultimately we’re making sure these weapons and drugs don’t get onto the streets of Essex.
“Working with Border Force, we are quickly identifying buyers and taking appropriate action.
“Sometimes we find that people buy items online and don’t realise they are illegal in the UK. In those cases, our approach is primarily to explain and educate.
“But we are also identifying individuals who are knowingly committing offences but think they can get away with it. They won’t.”
Weapons that have been seized include flick knives and samurai swords, which are illegal to import.
In one case someone had bought an extendable baton to protect their dog from being attacked by another dog. In another, someone had bought a samurai sword to display on their wall.
The partnership work comes ahead of new legislation, which will make it an offence to possess certain weapons in a private place, and to deliver or arrange deliver certain weapons.
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