Cumbria Constabulary today reveals the scale of the work underway to protect the county against serious and organised crime.
Drugs criminals, online offenders and those exploiting the vulnerable were among those caught and jailed in the last year after departments across the constabulary worked to keep the streets safe and deter and solve crime.
Officers also joined forces with other law enforcement and partner agencies dealing with the world of serious and organised crime throughout the year.
This work is carried out under the banner of Operation Alliance and will continue throughout 2023.
In just the last few weeks, the latest results of these types of investigations saw two separate major drugs seizures made.
Officers seized cannabis with a street value of £890,000 after stopping a van on the M6.
Police made a significant seizure of illicit pharmaceutical drugs in Carlisle.
Over the course of last year, police have also:
- Seized drugs with an estimated street value of nearly £4m.
- Increased the number of arrests made and warrants executed by the unit tackling cyber crime and online offending by 40 per cent, compared to two years ago.
- Seized suspected illegally-held cash worth a total of £1.5m.
- Carried out about 120 interventions with victims of fraud or financial abuse, leading to about £550,000 returned to Cumbrian victims of crime.
- Secured confiscation orders through the courts of illegally-made cash worth about £500,000.
- Secured numerous lengthy jail sentences for serious crime offenders throughout the north, west and south of the county.
- Detective Superintendent Ian Hussey said: “Our officers work all-year-round to protect Cumbria against serious and organised crime.
“Throughout the last year operations, drugs warrants and stop-searches have been carried out by our serious and organised crime unit, our community serious and organised crime teams, our roads crime unit, our proactive units and operational support teams, as well as detectives and uniformed officers across the force.
“This has seen organised crime groups jailed, drugs taken out of circulation, online offenders sentenced and the disruption or dismantling of criminal enterprises across the county.
“But the work to protect the public against serious and organised crime does not just focus on drugs and catching drug dealers and traffickers.
“Our unit dedicated to stopping and catching cyber criminals and protecting people online hugely increased its number of warrants and arrests as it dealt with an area of crime that is growing all the time.
“Alongside the arrests and prosecutions, we also took action to safeguard many people who we suspected were at risk.
“Our work around economic crime has led to hundreds of thousands of pounds being returned to Cumbrian victims of fraud or other types of financial abuse.”
Det Supt Hussey added: “This work is not carried out alone and Operation Alliance sees us work with various other law enforcement and partner agencies to protect people and bring criminals to justice.
“But, as always, the most important people in this is you – the public. To keep up the fight against this type of organised crime we need the public to let us know when they see anything suspicious in their communities.”
Tackling drugs crime
Notable investigations or sentencings in the last year include:
- Numerous cannabis factories uncovered across the county. In one example, these included a £1.2m cannabis factory being discovered in Carlisle city centre. All involved in this enterprise were jailed.
- Five arrests and cocaine seized with an estimated value of £25,000 as part of investigations into a suspected drugs conspiracy in the Carlisle area.
- County line group sentenced to over 20 years – Cumbria Constabulary
- Police forces work together to bring down ‘Striker’ county lines group – Cumbria Constabulary
- Man jailed for two years for drug supply – Cumbria Constabulary
- Detectives crack crime ring – with members jailed for nearly 25 years – Cumbria Constabulary
- Class A drug dealer is jailed after he was found in possession of a kilogram of cocaine – Cumbria Constabulary
- Carlisle man jailed for drug supply – Cumbria Constabulary
Tackling online offending and cyber crime
Cumbria Constabulary’s cyber and digital crime unit continues to protect the public and catch criminals operating online.
The unit, funded by Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, began operating in spring 2019, with investment made in additional specialist services at the constabulary to deter digital criminals and help the victims they target.
In the last year, officers in the unit have:
- Made 38 arrests.
- Carried out 28 search warrants.
- Safeguarded 108 children.
- Seen an increase in arrests and warrants of 40 per cent from 2020.
Notable sentencings in the last year include:
- Ulverston woman jailed for indecent images of children offences – Cumbria Constabulary
- Man jailed for three years following Cyber and Digital Crime Unit investigation – Cumbria Constabulary
Work of the Roads Crime Unit:
The officers in the county’s roads crime unit have continued to make significant seizures of cash and drugs following stops and searches of vehicles.
Cash seizures alone have totalled more than £1.2m in the last year.
Economic Crime Unit:
More than 50 separate cash seizures are currently being investigated.
A number of account freezing orders are in place linked to money laundering or fraud enquiries.
Preventing serious and organised crime:
Officers have successfully obtained 25 Serious Crime Prevention Orders against suspects linked to organised crime groups operating in the county.
These orders are designed to prevent continued involvement in serious crime and prohibit certain conduct and behaviour.
Officers proactively police compliance of these orders and, if breached, enforce the law with a view to returning them to prison.
Preventing county lines drugs crime
A pilot scheme in south Cumbria introduced the dedicated role of County Lines Prevent Co-ordinator.
The role is designed to work closely with partners to disrupt the county lines “business mode”’ by prevention and diversion.
They work to directly engage with those vulnerable to being victimised or criminalised, with the objective of making the operating ground of crime groups hostile and reducing demand more generally.
Intensified disruption campaign
In one example of the type of work underway, joint work across police departments saw a campaign of intensified disruption take place in May last year.
It focussed on high harm drug supply, online child abuse and targeting of wanted people.
During the campaign, officers:
- Executed 11 drugs warrants.
- Arrested 18 people on suspicion of drugs-related offences.
- Seized the equivalent of 2,000 street deals of heroin, 50 crack cocaine deals and ‘supply quantities’ of powder cocaine and cannabis, while also recovering illicit pharmaceuticals.
- Took more than £5,000 cash, mobile phones and weapons including knuckles dusters and knives out of criminal circulation.
- Directly engaged with nearly 700 residents to appeal for ongoing support to disrupt drugs offences.
Help us keep your communities safe
Det Supt Hussey added: “Cumbria remains one of the safest places in the country – but we are never complacent when it comes to dealing with crime.
“The constabulary has had a lot of success dealing with serious and organised crime in Cumbria in recent years.
“Work with our partners has led to people being taken out of the reach of these organised crime groups and safeguarded.
“This is what our officers do day-in, day-out to tackle and deter crime and keep people safe.
“But to keep up that work we need the information and intelligence to keep coming to us. Help us to protect your communities.”
Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “I am delighted to be able to share this snapshot of police activity, which is going on every day, as it is so important that we all understand the nature of policing activity across the county.
“So often people raise with me that they do not see enough of the police, this report demonstrates however, that much of the work of the police tackling serious crime and dangerous criminals is not seen or obviously visible. The important thing is that we are dealing with criminals who target the vulnerable and I am pleased to see how effective the constabulary is in bringing them to justice.
“Drug crimes and online crimes are two of the priorities that are raised with me continuously therefore I hope this provides reassurance to the public that Cumbria Constabulary are doing everything within their power to reduce these crime priorities in Cumbria.
“This is a clear warning to anyone who is committing crime in Cumbria: you will be caught and face the consequences.
“The police work with multiple partners across the county but the most important partner they have in preventing and catching criminals is the public, we all have a part to play. I would urge anyone who sees anything suspicious to report it to the Police on 101 or 999 in emergencies.
“Together we can make Cumbria a safer place to live, work and visit.”
Do you have information that can help us?
Anyone with information can report online at www.cumbria.police.uk/report-it
You can also phone on 101.
Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.