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“They threatened to shoot me”, says woman forced to abandon her Wisbech home as London drug dealers move in

PUBLISHED: 17:00 23 March 2017 | UPDATED: 11:17 24 March 2017

Police raids at William White Place, Norwich, as part of Operation Gravity. Photo: Geraldine Scott

Police raids at William White Place, Norwich, as part of Operation Gravity. Photo: Geraldine Scott

Geraldine Scott

More than 22 police officers raided three Norwich homes yesterday as they attempt to rid the region of Class A drugs and stamp out gangs from London preying on vulnerable people in the area.

Police raids at William White Place, Norwich, as part of Operation Gravity. Photo: Geraldine Scott Police raids at William White Place, Norwich, as part of Operation Gravity. Photo: Geraldine Scott

As police working as part of Operation Gravity made six arrests a woman from Wisbech, who was staying at one of the Norwich properties raided yesterday, told how drug dealers had taken over her own home - a practice known as cuckooing. She said those peddling drugs came from London and used her flat.

“They just use it as a drug den,” she said.

“I can’t go back to my flat in Wisbech, it’s been smashed and it’s been trashed.

“When they’re in your house you can’t go out because they take control of your home, that’s why I’ve had to leave my home. They take over your home, they take over your rooms, they make you do everything.

Police raids at William White Place, Norwich, as part of Operation Gravity. Photo: Geraldine Scott Police raids at William White Place, Norwich, as part of Operation Gravity. Photo: Geraldine Scott

“They make you go to the shop, they give you £50 a week and they don’t care if you lose your home. I’ve been threatened to be shot”

Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green, who accompanied police, said he was confident the message was getting through to the public, but also to the drug dealers themselves.

And Mr Green, who took care of a dog found in one of the properties while it was searched, said he had every confidence in officers carrying out the operation.

Chief Inspector Nick Paling, leading the searches, said: “We were faced with quite a chaotic scene because of the issues around the I’ve used high-level tactics.

“I’ve used what members of the public would describe as riot gear, they’ve been wearing helmets with their face visors down and using shields but they’ve deployed in quite a rapid and dynamic manor and we’ve negated any threat towards the coppers really quickly.”

He said Operation Gravity was force-wide, but there had been a particular focus on Great Yarmouth and Norwich, where there had been a “spike in violence associated with drug enforcement, debts, those kinds of things”.

Operation Gravity targets the most serious offenders involved in dealing and transporting Class A drugs into and around Norfolk, as well as working with partners to protect those most vulnerable to drug abuse and exploitation.

Since it launched in December 2016 approximately £35,000 worth of Class A drugs and £40,000 in cash has been seized, along with 21 knives.

Anyone with information about illegal drugs activity should contact Norfolk Constabulary on 101; however, if you have information but want to stay anonymous you can also contact independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Anyone needing help and support are encouraged to contact the Norfolk Recovery Partnership (NRP) on 0300 7900 227. The NRP provides confidential advice and treatment for adults with drug and alcohol problems, and is run by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation, The Matthew Project and The Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust.

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