24 Hours in Police Custody shining the spotlight on a multi-million pound drugs operation
Bedfordshire Police has issued a reminder about tackling the supply of illegal drugs ahead of the latest 24 Hours in Police Custody. This episode spotlights on a multi-million pound drugs operation.
Paul Prescott was jailed for two years and two months in September 2017 after nearly 700 kilogrammes of Class B drugs (amphetamine, herbal cannabis and cannabis resin) was discovered en route to a warehouse in Sandy.
Today’s (1 April 2019) episode of the popular Channel 4 programme charts how Bedfordshire Police worked with UK Border Force in the investigation. As well as sending officers to Manchester Airport to arrest Prescott, 55, who is originally from Liverpool.
Recent cases of serious violence fuelled by competition between rival drugs gangs in Bedfordshire
Last week, five gang members in Bedford were jailed for 79 years over a spate of violence. Which included kidnap and grievous bodily harm, a serious stabbing and a drive-by shooting.
The judge in the case said the gangs ‘were at war’ with one another over the trade of Class A and Class B drugs.
Earlier this month three men from Luton were also jailed over a drive-by shooting in Hockwell Ring, Luton. Judge Barbara Mensah said the incident showed that ‘dealing in drugs is an evil business’.
Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Lay oversees Bedfordshire Police’s response to serious and organised crime, and also holds senior roles on a number of national bodies looking to tackle drugs. He said:
“Drugs continue to be the principal driver of serious violence in our communities. People may think drugs, particularly those of Class B, are low risk, but their supply is inextricably linked to these outbursts of violence and the funding of organised crime.
“Highly addictive substances such as heroin and crack cocaine are the principal commodities for county lines, where Bedfordshire faces issues in terms of drugs gangs coming into the county as well as being exported into other areas.
“Vulnerable drug users are subject to incidents of financial and sexual exploitation, as well as cuckooing. We are seeing increasingly younger children becoming involved in drug dealing, and a surge in drugs related gang violence within our county.
“That’s why it is so important we and other law enforcement agencies continue to investigate major figures involved in the supply of drugs.”
In little over a month towards the end of 2018, major drug dealers operating in Bedfordshire were jailed for almost 160 years as a result of investigations by Bedfordshire Police and the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU).
Across 2018 the force seized almost £1 million of illegal drugs from dealers. As part of these 156 drug trafficking cases police also seized more than £160,000 in cash.
The force also worked with ERSOU to seize around £250,000 in criminal cash from across Bedfordshire.
Much of this money will be reinvested in tackling the force’s priorities, as well as funding regional and national law enforcement.