PCSOs praised for their part in disrupting criminal gangs through drugs warrants
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Over the past few months, across the Forest of Dean and Gloucester, officers have been disrupting the work of organised criminal gangs (OCGs) through a number of successful drugs busts.
These warrants, which have seen the seizure of Class A and B drugs with a street value of tens of thousands of pounds, are the result of hours of work by police across the county.
Much of the groundwork is down to the PCSOs, who have been gathering intelligence, as well as listening to the concerns of the community.
These officers, who are out patrolling the streets and roads across the city and towns, work closely with residents and businesses to pro-actively tackle the issue.
In the space of a few weeks in July and August, numerous warrants were executed across Cinderford, Berry Hill, Newent and around Gloucester – with officers discovering cannabis, ketamine and cocaine ready to be sold on to users.
Chief Inspector Rich Pegler said: "This is not a small amount of drugs being found – we are having a major impact on the supply chain that funds OCGs.
"It is the work of the PCSOs, along with other members of the Neighbourhood Policing Teams, who have played a big part in this success. They are our eyes and ears on the ground, listening to people who tell us where the problems are and gathering information themselves.
"While these operations can be big, it can all begin from a small conversation that one of our PCSOs has with a member of the public. We cannot underestimate what a vital role our neighbourhood policing teams have in keeping our communities safe."
National research has shown that Class B drugs, such as cannabis, have clear links, through the gangs who grow and sell them, to areas such as Modern Day Slavery and Human Trafficking.
Sergeant Az Azam, of Gloucester Neighbourhood Policing Team said: "We're beginning to realise that those people found in many of these cannabis farms are often victims themselves.
"Some may have been been trafficked into the country with the promise of a better life, and have paid thousands of pounds to organised criminals to get into the UK. They cannot always pay upfront, and often end up working in cannabis factories as farmers to repay their debts.
"Far from being a harmless plant, it can lead to the misery and destruction of so many lives.
"It is because of this that Gloucestershire Constabulary take reports of cannabis cultivation very seriously, and when information is received we look to act upon it swiftly and robustly."
If you know of suspicious activity taking place in your area, you can let police know through our website or by calling 101 number. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or online https://crimestoppers-uk.org/