Catching gang lords is key to stopping spread of drug crime, top officer says

Detective Superintendent Andy Smith says that the most dangerous criminals are to be targeted by the

Detective Superintendent Andy Smith says that the most dangerous criminals are to be targeted by the new task force. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Archant

The most senior gang lords need to be targeted if drug-related crime is to be stamped out across the county.

That is the message from Det Supt Andy Smith, from Suffolk Constabulary, after the force set up a new 11-strong Serious Crime Detection Team (SCDT) to clamp down on the problem.

County lines drug dealing, where gangs travel to Suffolk from London to ply their trade, has been named as one of the biggest policing challenges facing the county. Police believe stopping senior gang members in their tracks will stop the spread of crime and prevent them from exploiting vulnerable people by taking over their homes – known as ‘cuckooing’ – or recruiting them as drug runners.

Det Supt Smith said: “The team are focusing on high-threat and high-harm crimes like the problem of children being groomed by gangs, drug dealing and the related online crime these create.

“The figures from our work in September, taking £9,500 of drugs and £4,400 of cash off the streets, are a sign of the success of this kind of work and the reason we need the SCDT.”

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Det Supt Smith explained the people drug lords exploit cannot only be dealt with by police.

He added: “This is not a prosecution approach.

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“We have a safeguarding team working with other agencies, we seek out treatment and housing for vulnerable people.

“It’s a long-term process. We need to help users change their behaviour and the only way to do that is with all agencies working together.

“All of our team are experienced individuals who are developing their expertise, receiving training and acting as a force-wide resource.

“The police support investigators will be responsible for carrying out the enforcements and gathering the intelligence that will help our unit to build prosecution files as we take a ‘cradle to grave’ approach to catching these criminals.”

Suffolk police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said: “Whilst I am pleased the constabulary has introduced this new team, I do believe that these drug-related issues cannot be dealt with by policing alone and I will continue to work with other public sector partners in the county.

“I think drugs, and the violence linked to this despicable trade, are the biggest threats facing Suffolk at the moment so I’m pleased to see this new team in place.”

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