THE charity Crimestoppers, local police forces and the Office of Police and Crime Commissioners (OPCCs) across the South West, have launched a hard-hitting campaign to disrupt the activities of criminal gangs who are selling drugs across county boundaries.
The charity, which is independent of the police, is reminding local people that they have an option to pass on what they know about drug crime and other related crimes to Crimestoppers, whilst staying completely anonymous.
The forces, OPCCs and the charity are combining their efforts to help make the South West "No Place for Drugs".
The campaign is highlighting the associated crime that illegal drug dealing brings, including robbery, burglary, theft, violence and wider anti-social behaviour, which all damage local communities. Any suspicions about organised drug crime, associated crimes and concerns about victims can be reported to Crimestoppers 100 per cent anonymously at any time by calling freephone 0800 555 111 or by completing a secure online form at: Crimestoppers-uk.org . Alternatively, information can be given to Fearless.org, a Crimestoppers service for young people.
Fearless.org offers young people non-judgemental advice so they can make informed decisions about lifestyle choices and realise that they have an alternative option when reporting crime.
Anybody can get caught up in illegal, harmful drug activity. Signs to spot that something may not be right include:
• Changes in the way young people you know might dress and unexplained, sometimes unaffordable, new clothes, jewellery, phones, cars etc
• Access to multiple phones/receiving excess phone calls or texts
• You witness them dealing drugs.
Criminals can take over a home or short-term let as a drugs base; this is known as "cuckooing".
Signs of this can include:
• Regular short stay visitors
• Residents or young people going missing, maybe for long periods of time
• Curtains often always closed during the day
• A change of resident's mood/demeanour (e.g. secretive/withdrawn/aggressive/emotional)
• Unusual frequency of take away food
• Increase in rubbish/drug paraphernalia.
Beth Simpson, Regional Manager at the charity Crimestoppers, said: “We know that previous ‘No Place for Drugs’ campaigns have made a huge difference to local areas. They have led to hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of illegal drugs being removed from the streets, over 200 arrests and more than 300 vulnerable people being supported and safeguarded.
“Tell Crimestoppers what you know about drug crime and other associated crimes 100 per cent anonymously. If the information you supply leads to an arrest and charge, you could get a cash reward of up to £1,000.
"Your anonymous information can really help, such as safeguarding those who drug gangs are exploiting. This campaign will remind people that we can all play a part in looking out for and reporting signs of harmful drug activity in our neighbourhoods. If you recognise any of the signs mentioned, come forward completely anonymously to our charity.
“We don’t want to know who you are, just what you know. We won’t ask your name or take any personal details. We’ll just listen and pass on your information.
"Things to tell us include: names and/or nicknames; descriptions of those involved and any distinguishing features such as tattoos; addresses, transport used, ie, a car - a car’s make, model and registration.”
If you have been a victim of crime please report it to police, in an emergency always call 999 or in a non-emergency call 101.
Victims of crime can get free expert advice 24 hours-a-day from Victim Support on 0808 1689111 or via: victimsupport.org.uk .