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“A miserable existence” - the drug addicts drawn into criminality

PUBLISHED: 08:19 20 April 2018 | UPDATED: 08:19 20 April 2018

One of the occupants at a property in Orchard Street, Norwich, in handcuffs during police raids in Operation Cayman searching for class A drugs. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

One of the occupants at a property in Orchard Street, Norwich, in handcuffs during police raids in Operation Cayman searching for class A drugs. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2018

Four bodies sprawled across sofas in a flat at Orchard Street in Norwich barely budge as police batter down the front door.

Police officers search a handbag of an occupant during a raid of a property in Orchard Street, Norwich, during Operation Cayman searching for class A drugs. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPolice officers search a handbag of an occupant during a raid of a property in Orchard Street, Norwich, during Operation Cayman searching for class A drugs. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

By 9am on Monday morning they have already used, and needles, pipes and drug paraphernalia are scattered on the coffee table.

They do not try to escape as police clamber through the window and punch a hole through the front door. Five officers had executed the warrant, and had expected three occupants.

But their target was missing.

A bedroom at the back is quickly searched and cleared so the two men and two women can be strip searched. The home is tidy with neatly washed and folded clothes, made beds, and photographs of children on the walls.

Police officers make arrests in Operation Cayman searching for class A drugs in a raid in Orchard Street, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPolice officers make arrests in Operation Cayman searching for class A drugs in a raid in Orchard Street, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Apart from the glaring evidence of drugs it could be any other home.

The contents of one woman’s handbag is upturned onto a bed, revealing what one officer described as “a miserable existence”.

A tattered letter from Norfolk Recovery Partnership dated from February, five bottles of methadone, nine syringes and a handful of needles, along with condoms, torn up receipts and some make up.

One officer who cannot be named due to covert work, said: “In order to fund their habit they have to beg, borrow or steal and a lot of them are sex workers.

Drugs paraphernalia on the table at a property in Orchard Street, Norwich, as police raids get under way in Operation Cayman searching for class A drugs. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYDrugs paraphernalia on the table at a property in Orchard Street, Norwich, as police raids get under way in Operation Cayman searching for class A drugs. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“It is a pretty horrific lifestyle that they lead.”

Some cannabis and what is believed to be Class A drugs are found in the bag, so the woman becomes one of three taken into custody.

Over seven months of intelligence work the officers have come to know all of them, and say they always treat them with courtesy.

One officer from the drugs squad, who cannot be named, said: “We could have done this warrant six months ago but we would have been coming in pretty blind. This way we have been able to plan and prepare. We know who and what we are looking for.

Syringes and needles found when police officers searched a handbag of an occupant during a raid of a property in Orchard Street, Norwich, during Operation Cayman searching for class A drugs. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSyringes and needles found when police officers searched a handbag of an occupant during a raid of a property in Orchard Street, Norwich, during Operation Cayman searching for class A drugs. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“When we engage with them on an enforcement level I have always treated them with respect. That has always been a more sensible way of dealing with it.”

Two women are arrested on suspicion of possession of a Class A drug and a man is arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs.

Later the same day new information leads officers to pick up their original target - found carrying out community work.

He was charged with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and remanded into custody.

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