Council supports police drug operation
This was a vital operation, working across the partnership to reduce drug related harm. We have a responsibility to strengthen and support our local communities, and protect from drug related harm.Tracy Daszkiewicz, Wiltshire Council’s interim director of public health
We have supported Wiltshire Police in their running of an operation in Salisbury over the past two days to tackle the supply of Class A drugs (Crack Cocaine and Heroin) in the area.
This carefully planned multi-agency operation followed intelligence gathered regarding the supply of Class A drugs which identified issues around potential County Line activity in the area.
County Lines are a national and regional issue, a group or gang based in an urban city who establish the supply of Class A drugs into smaller towns.
Violence and exploitation is often linked to county lines supply. There is a significant risk of emotional and physical harm to those they exploit or those who are indebted to them. Vulnerable people are often coerced into running or selling the drugs.
Some vulnerable people living in housing association and council accommodation are deliberately targeted and lose control of their homes to the dealers/suppliers through intimidation and fear. The dealers from out of town will then use the property as a base, this is known as ‘Cuckooing'.
The occupants of the home, who are often vulnerable drug users themselves, sometimes with mental health issues and less frequently, the elderly, are told their families will be harmed if they call the police.
Gangs from large cities like London are able to operate from an unobtrusive home, using the premises to prepare and deal drugs in a safe environment, under the police radar or so they think.
Twelve men aged between 23 and 54, and one woman, aged 40 were arrested today - and currently remain in custody in Swindon.
Inspector Paul Franklin said: "County Lines are sophisticated drug networks and bring highly addictive substances, Crack Cocaine and Heroin into our community. The violence that these dealers bring with them and the potential exploitation of young and vulnerable people is of particular priority for us and we are doing everything we can to remove those responsible from our streets and put them before the courts.
"Due to the nature of these highly organised groups and the potential for new dealers to appear in the area this will be an ongoing piece of work. We will keep on disrupting chains of supply and need your help to do this. You can help by reporting any concerns about vulnerable people who are being exploited or those involved in the supply of illegal drugs."
Tracy Daszkiewicz, Wiltshire Council's interim director of public health said: "This was a vital operation, working across the partnership to reduce drug related harm. We have a responsibility to strengthen and support our local communities, and protect from drug related harm.
"We want to support people who use substances and are vulnerable to developing dependency or being drawn into drug related crime when they feel they have no other option. Vulnerable people can be coerced and frightened into participating in crimes, this operation aimed to identify those at risk and put the right support in place, ensuring sustainable disruption to drugs coming into our county, while also ensuring people experiencing addiction have access to the full range of support available.
"Our hope is this operation and the ongoing work will prevent the harm caused by drugs and keep people and our communities safe from the devastating consequences often seen as a result."
Setanta O'Kelly, Operations Manager at Turning Point's substance misuse service in Wiltshire, said: "Following Wiltshire Police's welcome operation to tackle the supply of Class A drugs in the area, we have set aside resources to provide support to people affected by this crackdown. There will be a number of people in Wiltshire who may now be facing withdrawal symptoms after they have had their access to substances cut by Operation Karine, and we are here to ensure people are not put at risk as a result.
"Turning Point has therefore put a number of arrangements in place to safeguard substance users. We are increasing distribution of naloxone - a type of medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose - which is an important factor in reducing the number of drug-related deaths. As well as this, we are allowing same-day prescription of Methadone so that people do not have to face the dangerous effects of immediately withdrawing from opioid use.
"We have ensured that our doctors will be on hand to deal with the anticipated increase in the number of people who will be seeking support, and are giving people the option to attend a rehabilitation clinic if they wish to work towards overcoming substance misuse."
Superintendent Sue Austin said: "Over the years I have seen the very real impact of drugs and the devastation that they cause. All police officers will have stories about the destruction that they have witnessed of people's lives through substance abuse and the despair of those families who could not help them. The addiction and subsequent actions of just one person has a knock on effect on everyone around him or her which ultimately destroys families and impacts on communities.
"There is obviously a clear link between drug use and criminal activity which escalates from low level anti-social behaviour and thefts to much more serious acts of violence. This leads to growing fear in communities, something that they should not have to endure and we will do everything in our power to tackle and prevent.
"Following on from the operation we recognise that this is an ideal time to work with users/addicts and with the expertise of our partners we are making sure that anyone affected is provided help and support. My teams are dedicated to tackling drug supply in the area and I would encourage all members of the community to work with us and report any suspicions or concerns."
Working on intelligence and information from the community is key to tackling this sort of crime and Wiltshire Police ask that anyone who has information about the supply of drugs in their area contacts them on 101 or calls Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.