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More than 100 suspected dealers arrested in police campaign to end drug related violence with Operation Gravity

PUBLISHED: 16:30 22 February 2017 | UPDATED: 16:31 22 February 2017

Chief Inspector Nick Paling, right, and PC Adam Binns, outside the first floor flat in Derby Street which has a Closure Order issued by the courts on it as part of Operation Gravity. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Chief Inspector Nick Paling, right, and PC Adam Binns, outside the first floor flat in Derby Street which has a Closure Order issued by the courts on it as part of Operation Gravity. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2017

More than 100 suspected drug dealers have been arrested by police in Norfolk as the drive to rid our county of heroin and cocaine gathers pace.

Temporary assitant chief constable Mike Fawcett, in the control room at Wymondham Police headquarters. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Temporary assitant chief constable Mike Fawcett, in the control room at Wymondham Police headquarters. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Operation Gravity has been a force priority since Norfolk Police declared a critical incident in response to a spike in violent crime last December.

Over the last three months, around £10,000 worth of Class A drugs have been seized along with £25,000 in cash, 10 knives and two offensive weapons.

A total of 106 people have been arrested and with a large percentage from the London area, officers feel confident they are stymying the flow of drugs across the border.

The latest arrests came at 9.30pm last night at Ber Street in Norwich after officers stopped a car and seized drugs, cash and a quantity of mobile phones.

The men, aged in their late teens and early 20s and from the London and Hertfordshire areas, were all arrested on suspicion of supplying a controlled drug and remain in police custody.

While progress is being made, T/ACC Mike Fawcett said violence associated with county line drug networks remains a critical incident and they “cannot be complacent”.

“This is a landmark but the challenge is still there,” he said.

“We will continue to respond and act on information put out to us. We cannot and will not tolerate illegal drugs activity in Norfolk.

Police break into a house on Keyes Close for Operation Gravity searching for suspected drugs users. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Police break into a house on Keyes Close for Operation Gravity searching for suspected drugs users. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“Because of the public’s help we have more than 100 people arrested for drugs offences linked to Operation Gravity. That is making the streets safer for the public in Norfolk.

“The focus on this is really providing benefits for us and we have been targeting the right people. If you come to Norfolk dealing drugs it is now a hostile environment.

“We are seeing a reduction in that tangible intelligence we need to respond to. That is because we are targeting the right people and arresting the dealers.

“Not only that but we are continuing to work with our partners to help those vulnerable people. That whole package together is the right approach to tackle the problem of drugs within Norfolk.

“These arrests reinforce our commitment to target those individuals travelling into Norfolk thinking they can deal drugs and negatively impact on our communities.

T/ACC Fawcett added the £50m cocaine haul found on Norfolk beaches is in no way connected to the regular local drug trade.

“If any intelligence comes in people are trying to land drugs we will respond to that,” he said. “We always have to have an eye on the coast but that is not something we have seen as part of Operation Gravity, where they are using trains and road networks to come into the county. We have no intelligence to suggest boats are coming in to the county.

With a multi-agency safeguarding hub including councils and health providers, T/ACC Fawcett said Norfolk’s response to county line drug networks is “ahead of the game”.

“I think with some of the things we are doing in Norfolk we are leading the way,” he said. “We have a really slick cohesive partnership approach for sharing information on those who may be vulnerable, whether that be around cuckooing or drug use.

“That ensures anyone who is vulnerable is not missed as part of this process.

“We still consider this to be a problem and it is still a critical incident within the organisation. We are not stopping with our endeavours and we have a commitment to act on any information.”

Anyone with any information about drugs in their area should contact Norfolk Police on non-emergency number 101. Alternatively information can be left anonymously with Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Anyone needing help and support are encouraged to contact the Norfolk Recovery Partnership (NRP) on 0300 7900 227. The NRP provides confidential advice and treatment for adults with drug and alcohol problems, and is run by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation, The Matthew Project and The Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust.

Force is determined to tackle spread of drugs

Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green said: “I can vouch for the determination and commitment of the force to tackle criminals travelling into the county to deal drugs.

“I am heartened to see the constabulary continuing to work with partners to support the vulnerable who can easily get caught up in such damaging illegal activity.

“I would also like to thank the Norfolk community for their on-going contribution; it is only by working together that we will make our county a seriously hostile environment for those looking to supply and distribute drugs.”

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