Drug and gang violence is the biggest threat facing Suffolk, says police commissioner

Officers from Suffolk police carry out a drug raid in Ipswich. Picture: KAREN WILLIE

Twenty nine people were arrested in Suffolk during a crackdown on County Lines drug dealing Picture: KAREN WILLIE - Credit: Archant

Youth gangs and drug violence have been described as “the biggest threat without question facing Suffolk”.

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore said it was the biggest threat facing Suffolk Pi

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore said it was the biggest threat facing Suffolk Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

The county’s police and crime commissioner, Tim Passmore, made the claim during a Suffolk Police and Crime Panel meeting in Lowestoft as part of a rallying cry for community leaders to priortise the problem.

“I think this is the biggest threat without question facing Suffolk at the moment,” he told the meeting, designed to hold the PCC to account.

“The criminal behaviour comes predominantly from London, but the north of the county is also attracted by gangs from Merseyside.”

He described the drug gangs as “evil, despicable and barbaric,” and added: “To tackle this problem is not going to be won by police activity and enforcement alone – we all share a responsibility for many things related to this.”

Mr Passmore called on all public leaders, public health teams, and education leaders to prioritise the problem in order to crackdown on further crime and prevent more youngsters becoming embroiled, and said a collaborative approach was needed – including with funding.

“We need to treat this like a public health epidemic and the reason I say that is because we need to have a multi-agency approach,” he said.

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“There’s an education side, parents, we have to look at housing, jobs, opportunities for youngsters.”

The panel heard aspirations to work better with criminals on their release as part of their rehabilitation programme to stop them falling back in with gangs, and the need for speaking to primary school-age youngsters.

Mr Passmore also pointed to work in Glasgow, which spent £1million to turn around its problem of knife crime by having a detailed plan which all organisations were a part of.

As part of its recommendations, the panel has called for a visible plan to be put together bringing together all public sector leaders, and vowed to write to leaders of public bodies calling for them to treat it as a priority.

Measures already in place such as the work of the youth gangs prevention team will be assessed by the panel in January.

Assistant chief constable Rachel Kearton said: “It is only by partnership working that the root causes and the long-term effects of gang and drug-related violence in the county will be addressed.

“We conduct regular operations responding to offences linked to illegal drug activity and county lines as part of our on-going work with Operation Velocity.

“The force wants to ensure the county remains a hostile environment for those involved in the supply of drugs and provide reassurance to Suffolk residents.

“We will continue to pursue, disrupt and arrest those people bringing criminality or anti-social behaviour, as well as constantly gathering intelligence that members of the public provide and for which we are grateful for.

“Our local communities have an important role to play helping us.

“If you know of suspicious activity taking place in your area let us know using the 101 number and we will respond.”

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