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Operation Vow: Protecting the public in Newark Town Centre

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Date: 
April 2019

Strategic Priority

The priority for the area over the next three months will continue to be Operation Vow.

Operation vow has been running in the area since October 2018 and as result of this we have identified and disrupted a number of county lines drugs operations that were exploiting vulnerable residents and supplying class A drugs into our communities. One of the individuals arrested as part of our Operation was sentenced last month. Following the execution of a warrant where he was found with controlled drugs, he pleaded guilty to possession of class A with intent to supply and was sentenced to three years and three months. This is a substantial sentence and sends a clear message.

County lines is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more importing areas within the UK, using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of “deal line”. They are likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults to move and store the drugs and money and they will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) and weapons.

There are some signs to look out for:

A young person’s involvement in county lines activity often leaves signs. A person might exhibit some of these signs, either as a member or as an associate of a gang dealing drugs. Any sudden changes in a person’s lifestyle should be discussed with them. Some potential indicators of county lines involvement and exploitation are listed below, with those at the top of particular concern:

• persistently going missing from school or home and / or being found out-of-area;• unexplained acquisition of money, clothes, or mobile phones

• excessive receipt of texts / phone calls and/or having multiple handsets

• relationships with controlling / older individuals or groups

• leaving home / care without explanation

• suspicion of physical assault / unexplained injuries

• parental concerns

• carrying weapons

• significant decline in school results / performance

• gang association or isolation from peers or social networks

• self-harm or significant changes in emotional well-being

If you have any concerns that someone you are about is involved in County Lines, please speak with your local Beat team or social care.

The county lines operation have been extremely labour intensive and we have sought support from the rest of the force to ensure they receive the appropriate attention and resources. Operation Vow will continue over the coming months, we have some plans in place for both uniformed and plains clothes patrols in the areas. We will continue to work with a multitude of partners to identify and tackle those responsible for drug fuelled acquisitive crime, and also drugs supply.

If you have an information please contact us on 101, via social media, directly via the contact page or anonymously to Crimestoppers UK on 0800 555 111. You can also complete an anonymous online report via the Crimestoppers website.

As always the caveat stands, this priority is centred around Newark town centre, as that is the area we have identified as needing focus at this time. This does not take-away from any of the other issues and priorities in other areas and our beat team and partners are committed to all communities. You can get updates on the priorities for your areas by speaking to the Beat Manager and keeping up to date via social media.

May update:

A partnership meeting has been scheduled for the end of May
to agree actions for each partner to contribute to the fight against County
Lines drugs supply. This will include looking at the problem from a housing,
health, education, support and safeguarding perspective. I feel very reassured by
the number of people who are keen to have this conversation and get involved.

From a policing perspective, the Neighbourhood Sergeants are
delivering another round of briefings to all officers that work in the area to
ensure they are clear on the developing picture around both county lines
offences and acquisitive crime, this will help keep everyone focused on the
priority.

We have recently held an operations planning meeting to
ensure that whilst we remain focused on Operation Vow, it is not at the cost of
daily business, local beat priorities. We must ensure that we have the capacity
to focus on other neighbourhood work as well as this priority. I am pleased to
say we are balancing and moving forward with all our priorities and responsibilities.

June update:

The partnership meeting took place at Newark and Sherwood
District Council building and was well attended by a variety of committed
partners. A number of actions have been agreed, mainly around safeguarding, education
and staff training. Prevention is always better than enforcement. 

One of the objectives of Op Vow was to reduce acquisitive
crime, it’s early days but I am very pleased to report that burglary, year to
date is currently -38.2%.
That’s 66 less burglary victims since April when compared to the same period
last year. This is due to some significant arrests, crime prevention work and
patrols. 

High visibility patrols have also been stepped up in the area as officers become
free from some of the time consuming conspiracy to supply investigations we
pick up in March. This patrol plan will continue and we are looking forward to
locking up a few more offenders in the near future…….

July and August update:

During July we spent many hours planning two days of disruption activity, that took place on 6th and 7th August.

A total of nine people were  arrested as part of a pre-planned complex operation into County Lines drugs supplies operating from Nottingham and supplying Newark with cocaine and heroin.It comes as six warrants were executed yesterday  on 6th and 7th August in Esther Varney Place, Newark, Grange Road, Newark, London Road, Newark, Stodman Mews, Newark, Maitland Road, Woodthorpe, and Barent Walk, Bestwood. Six men, two women and a 15-year-old boy have been arrested for a various class A drugs offences, including conspiracy to supply class A drugs, possession with intent to supply class A and class B drugs, and shop theft. One of those, Michael Jones, 48, of Grange Road, Newark, has been charged with a shop theft committed on 24 April 2019 and will appear Nottingham Magistrates Court on 17 September.Two other men were also arrested on 2 August after a vehicle was stopped in Lowdham as part of the operation. A substantial quantity of suspected class A drugs were found in the vehicle. A 26-year-old and 24-year-old were questioned and released on police bail pending further enquiries.Inspector Heather Sutton said: “This has been a very complex investigation that has involved assets from across the force, who are working together to dismantle the drugs supply into Newark and protect our community. "Arresting suspects is one part of dismantling drugs supply. We have been working closely with a variety of partners, who all support the fight against County Lines. "Newark and Sherwood District Council, Nottingham County Council, Drugs support services, housing providers, social care, NHS, EMAS, Notts fire and rescue and other partners have all been involved in protecting our district, our work will continue. We have more work to do.” If you suspect drug dealing in your neighbourghood, please let us know by calling 101, or via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 https://crimestoppers-uk.org/

Septembers update Op Vow was born out of an increase in acquisitive crime, today, the year to date crime figures for the Newark area are:All crime -3.7%Robbery -5.6%Burglary -33.3%Theft -12.8%ASB -4.7%

Time to celebrate? No, we still have 1722 residents and visitors to Newark who have been victims of crime.

We are back into the planning phase again, and by now I think you all know that means another round of arrests and warrants is on its way. Our team now have such a good understanding of the County Lines and other drugs supply picture in the town, we have been able to really develope our safeguarding approach. Officers have reviewed the previous victim profile and have been able to identify individual potential future victims of county lines.  Officers have visited those individuals, shared our concerns with them, educated them on county lines and together with a range of partners have put safeguarding measures in place to reduce their vulnerabilities that put them at risk of being a victim. It’s not quite Minority Report, but it certainly is preventative policing, and it’s the right thing to do.