Proactive operation leads to drugs, cash and weapons removed from South West communities

South West police seized more than five kilos of drugs and tens of thousands of pounds worth of cash during a region-wide crackdown codenamed Operation Scorpion.

Operation Scorpion is a collaboration between the five police forces in the South West region (Avon and Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire), alongside their respective offices of Police and Crime Commissioners, the British Transport Police, South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SWROCU) and the charity CrimeStoppers. This partnership combines resources to tackle drug supply across the region and make the South West a hostile environment for drugs.

The focus of phase three of the operation was on the supply and use of drugs in the night-time economy.

Officers carried out a range of targeted activities and patrols in identified hotspot areas across the region including Plymouth, Bournemouth, Swindon, Cheltenham and Bath. Plain clothes resources were deployed into bars, where drugs testing was carried out in licensed venues.

During the previous two phases of Operation Scorpion, which took place in March and July, there were over 800 pieces of policing activity, multiple kilograms of drugs seized alongside over £300,000 cash and a variety of weapons.

Phase 3, which ran from over three weekends from 18 November to 3 December, resulted in:

  • 649 drug disruptions
  • 70 arrests, 8 charges
  • 22 people safeguarded
  • £51,853 cash seized
  • Around 3.5kg of Class B drugs and 2.2kg of Class A drugs

Jim Colwell, T/Chief Constable of Devon & Cornwall Police, representing the five forces said: “Throughout the operation we saw teams across the region targeting activity into a wide range of areas where drugs are known to be used and supplied into the evening and night-time economy.

“Drugs dogs were deployed to assist with searches of venues and property, Roads Policing teams disrupted the movement of drugs and those driving under the influence of drugs and proactive teams carried out drugs warrants, removing drugs which were intended for our local communities.

“Operation Scorpion is here to send a very clear message – the South West is no place for drugs. 

“Working together we will continue to pursue those who seek to commit these crimes here, work with our partners to safeguard and support the vulnerable and provide education about the impacts and risks of drugs.”

T/CC Colwell continued: “Using information reported to police and CrimeStoppers, forces were able to build up a picture of what illegal activity was happening and use the intelligence to inform how and where we would target our operational activity.

“The information reported to us by the public is without a doubt a key part of this operation and I would urge anyone with information about suspected illegal activity in their community to report it and help us make the South West a hostile environment for drugs.”

On behalf of the region’s PCCs, Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly said: “There’s a perception in our society that ‘party drugs’ like ecstasy and cocaine are normal and can be used without consequence. The reality is that young people are losing their lives to these substances with devastating consequences for their families and our communities, and those who buy drugs are supporting child exploitation, misery and violence in the supply network.

“Commissioners across our region wanted a show of policing strength here to demonstrate that we stand by those who say we will not tolerate this harm any longer. Help for those who want to get off drugs is available, but those who persist in dealing and taking drugs in our region will discover that the South West is no place for drugs.”

Anyone with information about illegal drugs activity should report it to their local police service online or via 101. Always call 999 in an emergency.

To pass on information anonymously, speak to the independent charity Crimestoppers 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year on 0800 555 111 or use their non-traceable online form. Contact will remain 100% anonymous. Always.

They will never ask for a name or contact details and the phone call or online report will never be traced. If the information supplied leads to an arrest and charge, there could be a cash reward of up to £1,000.

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