Northumbria Police receive top award for an investigation into tackling Northumberland drug crime
A Northumbria Police operation to tackle drug crime in Berwick has been recognised as the top investigation of the year by a national policing awards body.
The annual Tilley Awards celebrate problem-oriented projects that have achieved measurable success in resolving issues faced by the police and the wider community.
Both operations were focused on extinguishing County Lines drugs networks within Berwick’s community.
Officers targeted drug dealers from the Liverpool area who had embedded themselves within the community to supply Class A drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine.
The dealers exploited the public, especially those with mental health issues or addiction problems, into aiding the supply of drugs.
Police identified Berwick homes which were used as bases and the suspects even forced locals into dealing to pay-off escalating debts – referred to as County Lines.
Detective Sergeant Robert Beers, who helped lead the operations, said: “When County Lines was first detected in 2019, we immediately sought to work closely with partner agencies to develop the intelligence picture around Class A drug supply and safeguard the most vulnerable within our community.
“County Lines is a heartless operation ran by greedy criminals with no sense of remorse for the communities and lives they destroy.
“Our proactive activity not only resulted in this particular operation being dismantled but we also built resilient systems to help prevent it re-establishing in the future.”
In January 2020, warrants were executed across Berwick and Liverpool, leading to 15 suspects being charged with a variety of offences with several more remaining under investigation.
To date, those sentenced have accrued more than 20 years of custodial sentences.
Northern Area Commander Chief Superintendent Janice Hutton said she was proud of the work that had been carried out in Berwick.
She added: “We are committed to keeping people safe and fighting crime. That’s exactly what this activity has done.
“The approach taken is also a prime example of the value of partnership working to ensure a real difference is made in the long-term.
“To be recognised on a national level with such a prestigious award is fantastic and everyone who has been involved should be immensely proud of their achievements.”