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Operation Cayman launched to keep a lid on drugs violence

The briefing for Operation Cayman as police plan raids searching for class A drugs in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The briefing for Operation Cayman as police plan raids searching for class A drugs in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

Seven months of intelligence work culminated in more than 33 arrests in 17 raids this week under Operation Cayman.

Assistant chief constable Paul Sanford. Picture: ArchantAssistant chief constable Paul Sanford. Picture: Archant

While there has been a focus on disrupting the drug supply since December 2016 under Operation Gravity, with more than 500 arrests in that time, Assistant Chief Constable Paul Sanford said police have had a growing number of complaints about open drug dealing.

“While there is always drug dealing in the county, we did find those activities had stepped up a notch,” he said.

“That has culminated in the enforcement action this week.

“Tackling the drug supply is an endless battle. Had we not undertaken the work we had already done with Gravity, we would have found an even worse situation.”

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

He added violent crime is rising across the country, and “we do not rest on our laurels”.

“Gravity started because we saw worrying increases in violent crime involving the use of weapons and serious harm being caused to victims,” he said. “Gravity has suppressed that, and this operation is keeping up that pressure.

“We know these things spread. There are always going to be dealers operating in the city. It is a sad fact of life. We prioritise those who exploit the vulnerable - particularly those who use children as part of their business model.

“We go after those that use violence to enforce what they do. Just as you get hostile takeovers in the corporate world, you get hostile takeovers in the drug world.”

While the week of action has had an impact on resources that have already been stretched, ACC Sanford said: “We can’t afford not to do this.

“The consequence of doing nothing would be more violent crime and more acquisitive crime, and we would spend more policing that.”

He added: “I would prefer if the people we are arresting today never got into that situation in the first place. 
“The debate is if we wanted to really make a dent in the world of drugs, would additional resources be better spent on police officers or mental health workers?

“We won’t ever solve the drugs problem in this country.”

But he says police will succeed: “If it leads to less arrests because there are less crimes for burglary, violence and anti-social behaviour in that area.
“If violent crime keeps within the ranges we want it - that looks like success. I am convinced it makes a difference if you do not see the needles in the alleyway or someone shooting up in the park.

“I think that is what matters most to the local communities.”

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