Tuesday, July 16, 2024

HMICFRS rates Police Special Operation Unit ‘good’ at tackling serious organised crime

THE Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) has been rated ‘good’ at tackling serious organised crime, with a new report highlighting its “specialist capabilities and work pursuing some of the region’s most dangerous offenders”.

The report published on Friday (May 19) followed an inspection by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) into the effectiveness of the regional organised crime unit’s (ROCU) disruption of organised crime across eastern England.

Between May 2021 and May 2022, the specialist unit led 651 ‘disruptions’ against serious organised crime threats.

The ERSOU says a huge amount of its work is “covert and intentionally unseen by the public until it ultimately results in activity such as warrants, arrests and other forms of disruption against those involved in serious and organised crime”.

In 2022 alone, ERSOU investigations led to nearly 450 years of jail sentences being handed to some of the region’s most dangerous criminals. It also supported forces on a significant number of their own investigations.

Inspectors acknowledged the efforts of the unit to prioritise operational activity towards the most significant threats, and commitment to improving working practices and sharing innovation through close liaison with the National Crime Agency.

The report noted that ERSOU had developed its intelligence collection to better understand the regional threat from serious organised crime, and had established an anti-corruption intelligence unit, the first of its kind in England and Wales.

Inspectors also referenced the work taking place to prevent future offending, stating this was higher in ERSOU than most other ROCUs. They were particularly impressed by a joint operation between ERSOU and Bedfordshire Police, noting the planning and partnership working across both organisations.

Assistant Chief Constable Simon Parkes, head of ERSOU, said: “The positive rating we have received from the police inspectorate is a direct result of the tireless work taking place across our specialist teams who are unrelenting in their pursuit of organised criminals across eastern England.

“We work closely with the police forces in the east of England around the threat of organised crime and operate in tandem to ensure our communities are safe from dangerous offenders such as drugs and firearms dealers, fraudsters, cyber criminals and many more.

“The methods used by criminals to commit serious and organised crime are changing faster than ever – it’s up to us to get ahead.

“We will now be looking to build on the report’s findings to assist us to continue to evolve and become even more effective.

“I would like to thank all our teams for their commitment and dedication, and also colleagues within our constituent forces for their support and backing.”

Festus Akinbusoye, police and crime commissioner for Bedfordshire Police – the lead force for ERSOU – said: “I am consistently struck by the quality, professionalism, and dedication of our ERSOU officers and staff in their efforts to tackle organised crime and terrorism across the region.

“This latest grading is worthy recognition of these exceptional efforts and the tireless work that goes into keeping communities safe.

“I look forward to continuing to work closely with my fellow commissioners and our operational colleagues to maintain these high standards and make even further improvements to the fantastic work ERSOU is delivering.”

The eastern region consists of seven forces – Bedfordshire Police, Cambridgeshire Constabulary, Essex Police, Hertfordshire Constabulary, Kent Police, Norfolk Constabulary and Suffolk Constabulary.

Individually, the forces’ response to serious and organised crime was rated as ‘good’ at Bedfordshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent and Suffolk.

However, Cambridge Constabulary was rated ‘inadequate’, with inspectors finding the force did “not fully understand the harms linked to serious and organised crime”, while Norfolk Constabulary ‘requires improvement, particularly in how it shares information relating to serious and organised crime with partners and frontline staff.

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