Revealed: bid for new drug squad in battle against Portsmouth traffickers

SENIOR police officers are drawing up plans to tackle an increase in drug dealers trafficking heroin and cocaine, The News can reveal.

Tuesday, 1st November 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 4:38 pm
Police are launching a new team to tackle drug-dealing

Under the proposals a new dedicated team of detectives could be set up and based at Fratton police station.

Superintendent Will Schofield said more dealers have been discovered but that the increase in detection could be linked to an underlying rise in the drug supply.

‘We have observed an increase in recent months and years but certainly in the last year,’ Supt Schofield said.

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‘It might have always been there and we’re just finding out.’

He added: ‘Drug use, in particular recreational, is across the board.

‘What I’m really referring to is the selling of class A drugs, particularly heroin and cocaine.’

The News understands that following the rise senior officers are to decide if a new dedicated team will be set up.

It comes after Operation Fortress – a major scheme to crack down on drug-related violence started in 2012 – was extended to Portsmouth two years ago.

That operation, started in Southampton, was brought to the city in response to London drug dealers sending down young teenagers to courier illicit substances.

A former dealer involved with people importing drugs told The News teenagers are forced into getting involved.

The 39-year-old said: ‘If you get rid of one dealer, five people wanting to take over come in. It’s a full-scale thing.

‘Sending people to prison, that’s not doing anything. It’s been going on for so many years. Police need to come at it in a different way.’

He warned that in his experience young teenagers from out of the area are being offered the chance of earning cash but are then given nothing, effectively trapping them in the area.

‘You wouldn’t give them any money so they’re stuck down there,’ the man, who was involved in crime outside Portsmouth, said.

Recent cases have seen six members of the London-based ‘Sugar Network’ jailed for more than 14 years combined.

They sent out bulk text messages to addicts offering cocaine and heroin, carried by runners in the city.

Another case in December last year saw eight members of a gang supplying cocaine and heroin jailed for 100 years.

Supt Schofield added: ‘We are determined to find out more about the drug picture in Portsmouth.’

He added that the drug supply is not linked to a recent spike in violence. But the ex-dealer who spoke out warned violence and drugs are connected.

‘In Portsmouth you get a lot of people coming down trying to sell drugs,’ he said, adding: ‘But dealers have to hold the roads, you have to show them it doesn’t work like this and it’s very violent.’

According to figures on the crime maps website for the 12 months to June, drug crime in Portsmouth was higher than average for the Hampshire force area.

A police spokeswoman added: ‘We know that much of the drug dealing originates from London-based street gangs and we work with the Metropolitan Police and south east regional forces to share intelligences and co-ordinate activity.’

‘We just don’t have the resources... it’s frustrating’

THE man who represents rank-and-file police officers across the county has said the force does not have enough resources to throw at increases in certain types of crime.

John Apter, Hampshire Police Federation chairman, said when problems do arise they have to use the same stretched officers.

‘The problem is, if we have a spike in crime or a particular problem, we don’t have a box of officers to deal with the problem, we have to cut our cloth accordingly,’ he said.

He added in the past dedicated specialist units, such the burglary unit, have had huge effects in driving down crime.

‘We just don’t have the resources now,’ he said. ‘That’s really frustrating for people who want to do the very best they can.’