‘Strong desire’ to stop London drug dealers expanding into Suffolk is praised

Stock image of a drugs raid in Ipswich. Picture: ARCHANT

Stock image of a drugs raid in Ipswich. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Frontline officers in the fight against drugs have been praised by a leading law enforcement expert for their “strong desire” to prevent London dealers expanding their trade into Suffolk.

Tony Saggers, the National Crime Agency’s former head of drugs threat and intelligence, paid tribute to Suffolk Constabulary’s efforts in trying to prevent the spread of drug-related offences - despite what he described as an “obvious pressure this places upon resources”.

Mr Saggers, a top expert on organised crime with more than 30 years of experience, was speaking at a training event held for frontline officers in Suffolk involved in the fight against so-called “county lines” dealers, who travel from large cities to quieter rural areas to ply their trade.

Suffolk police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore has said the issue is the “biggest threat without question facing Suffolk at the moment”, with gang members likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults using coercion, intimidation, violence and weapons.

Neighbourhood policing teams, such as St Edmundsbury, Tweeted on Friday, November 2 to thank Mr Saggers for “giving us insight into a threat to every town”.

Stowmarket Safer Neighbourhood Team also praised him for his “great input...all about #countylines drug dealing and urban street gangs”, adding that the area is “such an important local and national policing priority”.

Mr Saggers replied to say: “Great to spend the time with you all discussing the challenges of policing #countylines #gangs #exploitation and looking at front line opportunities to contribute to the wider #strategy.

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“It was a real pleasure and great to hear from those attending a strong desire to be involved in the response and solution, despite the obvious pressure this places upon resources.”

Suffolk Constabulary recently allocated £500,000 to a multi-agency team to tackle drugs and related gang culture.

In October officers in the county took part in a national week of action against county lines, during which 19 arrests were made and around 150 wraps of class A drugs recovered, along with around £3,500 in cash.

However Supt Kerry Cutler said the work was about more than simplying making arrests, adding that the force’s Youth Gang Prevention Team visited 31 schools between June and September in a bid to deter impressionable youngsters from a life of crime.

“As I have said previously policing alone will not solve the issue of drug addiction and we need to ensure everyone is playing their part to protect the community from drugs,” she said.

“We want to help those vulnerable members of the community, who get caught-up in this kind of activity to support their habit and break the cycle.

“It is about ensuring the next generation can grow up in a safe county without fear of violence or intimidation.”

Those who suspect drug dealing is taking place in their community should call Suffolk police 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

If someone is in immediate danger or a crime is taking place, people should always dial 999.

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