SEVENTEEN people have been arrested during a three-day operation to tackle gang activity in Essex.
Over the last two years, teams have been created in the North, South and West local policing areas to disrupt and dismantle urban street gangs who travel to the county to deal drugs and cause violence.
Since May 2014, the teams, known collectively as Operation Raptor, have executed in excess of 220 warrants, made 663 arrests and seized crack cocaine, heroin, amphetamines and cannabis with an estimated street value of more than Â£1,000,000.
The three days of action on June 21, 22 and 23 saw the teams act on intelligence to crack down on gang members who travel from areas including London and Liverpool to sell drugs, cause violence, carry weapons and prey on the most vulnerable.
Officers executed search warrants at properties believed to be linked to dealing, stopped and searched suspected dealers and checked vehicles of interest.
Activity focused on the Chelmsford, Braintree, Colchester and Tendring areas on Tuesday, June 21, Southend, Basildon and Castle Point on Wednesday, June 22 and Thurrock and Epping on Thursday, June 23.
Supt Paul Wells, who is leading on Operation Raptor, said: "Drug dealing and violence between rival gangs understandably causes high levels of harm and unrest in our communities.
"I hope this week’s activity and the results achieved by the Operation Raptor teams so far help to reassure concerned residents that we are not ignoring the issue and are working to bring to justice gang members who think they can travel to Essex to commit their crimes.
"Drugs and weapons wreck and ruin lives and we will use a variety of tactics to bring to justice those who carry them. So far, the work of the north LPA team alone has resulted in gang nominals receiving prison sentences totalling 111 years.
"As well as this enforcement activity, Operation Raptor is about working with our partner agencies whether that be colleagues from Operation Trident, a command set up by the Metropolitan Police to tackle gang violence, or agencies that can offer support for those affected by gang criminality.Many people don’t realise that drug dealing gangs exploit and prey on the vulnerable in our communities – persuading them to carry drugs on their behalf and taking over their homes as a base from which to deal.
"We recognise that young people are among the most vulnerable in our communities and are working with Junior Smart from the St Giles Trust to educate them about the harsh realities of gang life. Junior, an ex-offender who now runs an intervention project to help young people break free from gang crime, has taken part in a short film with us in which he speaks openly about the lengthy prison sentence he served for drugs offences and the consequences of making the wrong choices in life.
"My teams are striving to keep the communities of Essex safe but much of our work is intelligence led so we need your help. If you have information about gang activity where you live, tell us by calling 101. Anyone who would rather not talk to police can call the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. You won’t have to give your name or go to court to give evidence.
"Anyone with concerns about vulnerable people being exploited should report it to Essex Police on 101, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, Essex County Council Social Care on 0345 606 1212 or via school if the victim is a child.
"There is more work to be done but my officers and I are determined to make gangs think twice about committing crime in Essex. We will work tirelessly to keep the streets of Essex safe.”
Roger Hirst, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: "It is clear that gang activity is having an increasing impact on parts of Essex, with often horrific assaults and even murders occurring as rival groups compete to sell drugs, leaving local residents feeling unsafe as they go about their daily lives.
"I strongly support police disruption of gang activity and welcome these Days of Action across the county. It is an essential part of our strategy to show the gangs that they will be brought to justice if they seek to operate in Essex.
"We must also prevent gang exploitation of vulnerable members of our communities. This may include individuals whose homes are used for ‘cuckooing’ and young people caught up or intimidated into criminal activity on behalf of gangs. We must intervene to show young people that there are other ways of life which are far more rewarding emotionally and which carry much less risk of harm both to themselves and others.
"If anyone has any suspicions about gang activity in their local area, I would urge them to contact Essex Police on 101 or report it online. Alternately, if you wish to remain anonymous, please contact Crimestoppers as part of the ‘Gangs don’t care – do you?’ campaign that we are running.”
RESULTS FROM SOUTH
Wednesday, June 22, 201
RESULTS FROM WEST
Thursday, June 23, 2015
Two boys from London were arrested on suspicion of GBH in connection with the stabbing of a man in Calcutta Road, Tilbury on June 22, 2016. The 16-year-old and 17-year-old were arrested in Purfleet and are currently in custody.
A man was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply class A drugs after the execution of a warrant at an address at The Stow, Harlow at 2.30pm. The man from London,whose age is currently unknown, is now in custody.
A four figure sum of cash was seized following the execution of a warrant at an address in Alluric Close, Chadwell St Mary. The cash was seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act but no arrests were made.