Combined police operation sends strong message to criminals that the South West is #NoPlaceForDrugs

Combined police operation sends strong message to criminals that the South West is #NoPlaceForDrugs

In a significant new approach, police across the South West have combined their operational powers to tackle cross border drugs supply activities. Operation Scorpion took place from 7 March 2022 and across the South West led to:

  • 194 arrests in connection with drugs related offences
  • 55 warrants carried out
  • 400 drug line disruptions
  • £404K (at least ) of suspected drugs seized
  • £131K (at least) of cash seized
  • 320 vulnerability / welfare checks carried out and people safeguarded
  • A vast array of weapons seized including tasers knives and machetes

SW ROCU worked alongside the five regional police services (Avon and Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire), their respective offices of Police and Crime Commissioners, the British Transport Police, and the charity Crimestoppers, to harness their collective power and disrupt the South West drugs market, dismantling drugs supply networks and arresting those who profit from them.

Coinciding activity with National County Lines Intensification Week led by the National County Lines Coordination Centre (NCLCC), police officers used a range of tactics including enhanced surveillance of the road and transport networks, increased high visibility patrols in areas of high demand, carrying out warrants at addresses used for drug dealing and welfare checks on vulnerable people.

Class A drugs seized from a car stopped as part of the ANPR operation. It had travelled from the North West to Devon & Cornwall.
  • SW ROCU led a regional ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) operation that saw dedicated road policing unit resources from all five forces target vehicles travelling from key drug exporting locations to towns and cities across our region. 
  • It saw more than £250k worth of drugs destined for Devon and Cornwall, Dorset and Gloucestershire seized, as well as a high value car stolen from a burglary recovered and reunited with its owner in Dorset. 

Speaking on behalf of the five regional police forces, Assistant Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police, Mark Cooper said: “This operation is about combining the resources, intelligence and enforcement powers of all the police forces across the South West to create a “ring of steel” against organised criminals looking to cause harm in this part of the country.

“We know that those who supply and distribute illegal drugs operate in a borderless way, creating complex networks of drugs lines in our towns and cities, and we need to mirror that if we are going to be successful in taking a strong and robust stance against this sort of criminality.”

On behalf of the five Police and Crime Commissioners, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner and APCC co-chair for Substance Misuse and Addiction, David Sidwick said: “This is the first time that all five forces in the South West have come together with the same priority – to hit those involved in illegal drug activities and County Lines. I am extremely proud of the way in which all the partner agencies have worked together to coordinate this unique operation.

“Criminals don’t see county borders when it comes to drug supply and dealing activities and now, neither do we. The message to those involved is clear – don’t come to the South West because Scorpion will be waiting and it has a nasty sting in its tail!”

Head of SW ROCU, Det Supt Tina Robinson, said: “The ANPR operation led to hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of drugs being seized, the sale of which would have both further strengthened the organised crime groups behind them and led to more harm, exploitation and crime at a local level in towns and cities across our region.

“The arrests made will have undoubtedly sent a very clear message back to those running these drugs supply networks: the South West is no place for your drugs.”

Anyone with information about illegal drugs activity should report it to their local police service online or via 101. Always call 999 in an emergency.

To pass on information anonymously, speak to the independent charity Crimestoppers 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year on 0800 555 111 or use their non-traceable online form. Contact will remain 100% anonymous. Always. They will never ask for a name or contact details and the phone call or online report will never be traced. If the information supplied leads to an arrest and charge, there could be a cash reward of up to £1,000.