A man and woman have been arrested and a large quantity of what we believe to be cannabis has been seized following a warrant at an address in Little Michael Street, Grimsby.
Our officers targeted the address this morning, following reports from a number of members of the public who were concerned the property was being used for drug-related crime.
And we didn’t even have to break down the door, as the occupants opened it for us when they saw us heading down the path.
A 31-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs and possession with intent to supply drugs other than Class A.
A 29-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply drugs other than Class A.
Sergeant Lorraine Paterson said: “Drug related crime can have a huge impact on our communities and we won’t tolerate it.
“I’d like to thank everyone who contacted us with concerns about this address and I’d urge anyone with concerns about criminal activity in their area to do the same.
“You may not see us act on it straight away but please don’t think we’re ignoring you – there’s always lots of work going on behind the scenes.
“We put together all the information we receive to build up the bigger picture, establish if there are links to any other investigations and – most importantly – to make sure that we get the best possible result for the community when we do go through the door.
“Today we have recovered a number of mobile phones, a large quantity of a what we believe to be cannabis and arrested two people.
“My team are also speaking to those living and working nearby to let them know about the action we’ve taken to day and reassure them about any concerns they may have.”
If you want to speak to us about what’s happening in your area, please speak to our officers when they’re out and about or call our non-emergency 101 line.
If you’d rather not give your name, you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
A further three men have been charged with drugs offences as part of an on-going Humberside Police operation to stop suspected county lines operations in Grimsby.
Jordan West, 26, of Hull; Scott Hendry, 26, of Longshaw Street, Warrington and Craig Owen, 31, of Overton Court, Barton, were arrested in a co-ordinated operation last night (Wednesday, May 22).
All three are charged with conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine between September 2017 and March 2019. Owen is further charged with making threats of violence on August 21, 2018.
West and Hendry have been remanded to appear before Grimsby Magistrates Court this morning (Thursday, May 23), while Owen has been bailed to appear before the same court on July 2, 2019.
These latest charges follow the arrest and charge of Andrew Vassou, 29, of Queens Drive, Liverpool and Leslie Aytoun, 48, of Lochinvar Street, Liverpool, in an operation which saw teams from Humberside, Merseyside, Cheshire, the Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) and the National Crime Agency (NCA) carry out strikes in Grimsby, Liverpool and Warrington.
Vassou and Aytoun are also charged with conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine and have been remanded in custody following an appearance at Grimsby Magistrates Court on Monday, March 25.
Taking drugs off our streets – the officers who carry out drugs warrants (Part 2)
8 Apr 2019
In the second part of our interview with Detective Sergeant Ian Holland from Humberside Police’s proactive team he talks about the reality of what officers go through ‘on the ground’ as part of their everyday work.
Q. Can you talk about what happens when you and your team first approaches a property? What do you think about?
“You have to expect the unexpected. We tend to be kitted up in protective equipment, and we’re trained in method of entry techniques (MOE), but when we put the door in you just don’t know what you’re going to find behind it.
“You will have a good idea about who might be there from intelligence but you don’t know the number of people. It could be a group or just one person.
“There’s an obvious threat of violence and risk involved. If there are firearms there then that can escalate a situation and we would need an appropriate response. We have support from our firearms officers if we need it.
“That’s thankfully very rare. But we need to be mindful to protect ourselves and also the people inside the property. And that includes children and animals.
“The first thing we need to do as quickly as we can is to make sure no one is at risk of getting hurt and there’s no risk of evidence being lost either.
“We need to try and recover drugs, cash, mobile phones or anything else that’ll give us evidence.”
Q. So, what happens to the evidence that you seize?
“The drugs are analysed to confirm what they are and disposed of and destroyed. In terms of cash and assets we use the Proceeds of Crime Act.
“We have a financial investigation unit that will look to confiscate any money, which is eventually put into partnership and national coffers.
“Money confiscated from criminals is put back into the public purse. There are lots of steps the cash has to go through.
“It’s distributed through the Government into local partnerships such as community projects, as well as policing.”
Q. What happens to the people you arrest?
“After an arrest we need to reach quite a high threshold to prove someone has committed an offence, so we need evidence. Some things can take time to prove.
“We could need further witness statements and we might need to check electronic devices for instance. There are a number of further enquiries we might have to carry out.
“Sometime we have to release people under investigation (RUI) or bail them because there is insufficient evidence to charge, but generally speaking that’s just a delay to the inevitable.
“We need to make sure we have all the evidence gathered, then the CPS can take that forward to court to prosecute the individuals. We do have a really high success rate.
“There are very few people who are RUI’d who are then released without charge when we’ve recovered drugs, money, mobile phones or weapons., as well as any evidence we’ve already amassed before we even do the warrant.”
Q. Would you say is it a dangerous job?
“We tend to go into an address in plain clothes. We do sometimes go in uniform in full kit. We assess each job as we see it but it’s possible that we can be assaulted going into an address.
“People don’t want to be arrested so they might fight! Sometimes they say they didn’t know we were police officers even though the first thing we do when we go into an address is shout ‘police’.
“We manage that risk. Officers have been punched, kicked, headbutted. We’re dealing with criminals. We’ve unfortunately had an officer who was bitten by a dog and needed treatment, another who was kicked in the head while detaining someone on the floor.
“Officers plan ahead, they’re briefed, they know what they’re facing and usually we have the edge because we’re aware of the threat. We always back each other up.”
Q. How do you physically get into a property and through a door?
“There are various ways of getting in. Some officers are trained with what we call a two-man ‘Rammit’, or a single ‘Red Key’ which can be used for lighter doors.
“Some officers are trained to cut a door open with a saw. We also use a special strengthened crowbar to prize doors open.
“Some doors take twenty goes to get in, others just one or two. An internal door will go in really easily. It all depends on the doors and locks.”
Q. What’s the best thing about the work you do?
“The best thing is about the job is not just about the amount of drugs we seize, it’s about getting people who are creating problems in an area. It’s also about arresting someone you’ve been looking for for a long time or shutting down a cell or a drugs gang.
“Previously, we have seized £15,000 worth of class A drugs from one property, which was a good result. In January we took part in a national week of action to tackle county lines gangs where we seized over £60,000 worth of drugs and made lots of arrests.
“Sometimes though we might not get anything, but we definitely get results more often than not.
“Another good thing about the job is tackling the crime that surrounds drugs. For example, a drug users might spend £20, £40, £50, even £100 a day on maybe weed or on heroin. So you’ve got to ask yourself the question, where are they getting the money from?
“Who’s funding that habit? It’s members of the public, as users often steal from shops, vehicles, houses or rob people.
“A user might sell a stolen TV to buy drugs. The person who originally bought that TV might have spent £1,000 on it out of their hard earned money, but it’s being sold on for a £100 fix. That could be every day. Possessions can be sold for a tenth of their value for just a couple of wraps.
“It all adds up. When they have a tenner rolled up in their hand to pay for drugs, I’d say it’s unlikely that they’ve grafted for that money.
“Often a user will steal or begged for that money – anything from nicking something out of their partner’s wallet or purse, a kid’s piggy bank, or sentimental items from a family member.”
Q. How do you sum up your job?
“We’re here to nip it in the bud. Drugs and crimes surrounding drugs are sadly embedded in society, not just across the country but across the world. We want to do more to protect the public and detect crimes.
“There have been so many times when we’ve busted someone for a small amount of cannabis for personal use, then after investigating further we’ve found a much bigger operation going on.
“We see bins full of drugs and golf-ball sized wraps of class A drugs which we’ve seized.
“The good thing is, is that people who use drugs tend to talk. Some dealers do too, as they’ll tell you about other dealers – their competition!
“The street value for a kilo of cocaine is about £50,000. For heroin it’s about £30,000. It can be a profitable lifestyle for dealers but there are extremely harsh consequences for them when we come knocking.
“And that’s something we’re going to carry on doing.”
If you have any information or concerns about drug crimes we want you to contact us, or if you want to remain anonymous please call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Follow us on twitter @Humberbeat and on facebook for updates and more information about the warrants we execute.
In a large office in a police station somewhere in Hull a team of officers get together every day to plan the next steps towards taking drugs off our streets and tackling crime related to drugs.
Looking around the room, you wouldn’t be able to pick them out of a crowd of people on any given day. They’re not in uniform but are wearing jeans, trainers, and t-shirts.
It’s a jovial but work-like atmosphere and everyone has a nickname. But they know that their job, like any other police officer, is a serious one.
They’re Humberside Police’s north bank Proactive team.
You might have read about the officers who seize drugs, cash, and weapons as well as arrest and charge people involved in drugs crime. And you’ve probably seen footage or pictures of officers knocking down doors at properties where drugs are believed to be.
Well, Detective Sergeant Ian Holland is one of them. He sat down to answer a few questions about the work the team does. And why.
Q. Tell us about the work you do and how you find out about drug dealers?
Det Sgt Holland: “We get information in lots of different ways. It can be anything from a phone call from a neighbour about constant comings and goings at a property, an anonymous source, or Crimestoppers, but mainly from intelligence gathered from officers in our intelligence team and from daily observations by the proactive team– anything about suspicions about drug dealing going on.
“We build up that intelligence through surveillance and general intelligence gathering to get a better picture of what is happening, where and who is involved. Wherever drugs are being dealt, it is usually quite obvious.
“However the information comes in, it has to be verified and corroborated. We can’t always just act on it individually as we have to build on the information we get and determine whether or not we can use our police powers or if we need to apply for a warrant. Either way, we will look to take positive action as soon as we can.
“ In order to get a warrant, we to go to a Magistrate and explain exactly what the intelligence is and why you think a warrant is the most effective solution. We can carry out overt and covert work, gather information, and put out appeals – things like that – and ultimately decide if we have enough for a warrant.”
Q. So when you get the information together, what are you looking to achieve?
“The seizure of drugs is the main reason. Whether that be spice, cannabis, cocaine, heroin, crack cocaine – whatever the drug is they all fund a criminal lifestyle for the suppliers. We also look to recover cash and assets as well as evidence of dealing and other related offences.
“The people that buy harder drugs can have criminal records too. To buy drugs they have to get money from somewhere. This is usually through theft, burglary, and vehicle crime, which creates more victims.
“Targeting the dealers reduces the availability of the drugs. It allows us to work with our partners such as drug support services and probation services to reduce the demand for drugs, and ultimately reduce crime.”
Q. How long does it take to get a warrant?
“It can be the same day. If we have good intelligence and someone contacts us with concerns we can check our systems and see if it’s corroborated with other calls.
“We can get one in half an hour, and we can be banging on the door if we think it’s proportionate at that time.”
Q. What kind of problems do people experience who live near a suspected drug dealer?
“Generally, if someone is dealing drugs – even if that’s a lower level drug like cannabis – they’re usually dealing at all times of the night and day.
“People call in to say saying they’re fed up with loud music, cars coming at all times and callers knocking and shouting through letter boxes.
“There may be children or old people there. You wouldn’t want people banging on a door 24 hours a day.
“The people who buy the cannabis can also be antisocial, often quite loud, and could be committing crime in the area to buy drugs. Some people think that cannabis is an acceptable drug for people to have. The law says otherwise and it’s our job is to enforce the law.
“It can be a shock when we jump out of a van, shout ‘police’ then knock down a door. We try and reassure people as soon as we can but we obviously can’t before a warrant as you don’t know who you’re speaking to, as they could be involved or give a tip-off to a dealer.
“It’s important that we reassure communities because despite the fact that some people might say ‘it’s only cannabis’, people living nearby – I’d say over 90% of them – say ‘I’m really glad you’ve done that’, or ‘I’ve been wanting you to do that’.
“Hopefully most members of the public understand what we’re doing and why, and support us.
“In the estates we go to we always get a good response from people there. The people we don’t get a good response from are generally drug users themselves who don’t like that we’re disrupting their daily lives because they want to buy the drugs.”
Q. It isn’t just single drug dealers you’re stopping – what about larger groups such as county lines drugs dealers?
“County lines is a blight across the country. You have bigger scale dealers who are using little known, young and vulnerable people to come into our areas to deal drugs for them. Their belief is that young people won’t get punished as hard. They are preying on vulnerable young people and the users themselves just so they can profit financially. They have no regard for anyone but themselves.
“These youths can get paid quite handsomely, but they don’t see the risks and don’t really know what they’re doing. But if they don’t do it, they and their families could be threatened or subject to violence. Our job isn’t just to catch the dealers, but to safeguard these vulnerable youngsters.
“On the south and north banks we’ve had people coming in from Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham who take over and live in properties of drug users and other vulnerable people and deal from there. That’s called ‘cuckooing’.
“Sometimes these people are even kicked out of their homes. The dealers will give a drug user maybe £20 worth of heroin a day while they themselves are earning hundreds or even thousands of pounds from someone else’s property.
“We’ve had some high profile success recently in Grimsby with stopping county lines drug dealers which is great.”
Q. Is drug dealing a big problem across the force area?
“Well, we execute between 100 and 150 warrants a year. Maybe 2 or 3 a week, sometimes more. And there are up to two dozen officers in the team at any one time so we get through a lot of work.
“It’s not just warrants though. We have plain clothes officers on the streets who are constantly on the look-out for drug dealers and users. We regularly see deals being done in broad daylight so arrests and seizures are made on a daily basis.
“We have a lawful power under sections 18 and 32 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act to go the dealer’s address where we often find larger amounts of drugs and cash and we can seize that too.
“We have officers in plain clothes out there as we speak. People dealing drugs don’t expect to see us 24 hours a day. We’ll just pop up and, supported by uniformed colleagues, it can work really well.
“A dynamic situation might unfold in front of us in the street where we can arrest the person, search an address and recover a lot of drugs in a very short amount of time. And once you know a few tricks of the trade you can spot a dealer a mile off.”
If you have any information or concerns about drug crimes please we want you to contact us, or if you want to remain anonymous please call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
*We will publish the second part of Det Sgt Ian Holland’s interview about the work that he and his colleagues do in a couple of days*