Agenda item

Operation Scorpion - Regional Drugs Policing


Alison Hernandez (Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner) introduced the item and highlighted the following points:


a)    In October 2021, the five Police and Crime Commissioners collaborated to combat drug issues in the South West, emphasising a concerted effort to address cannabis as a gateway drug;


b)    In 2021 the Government published it’s ‘From Harm to Hope’ plan as a ten year plan to cut crime and save lives, including a requirement for Combatting Drugs Partnerships to be formed, four of which had been established in the South West;


c)    In March 2022, during the first phase of Operation Scorpion the police seized £90,000 in cash, 33kg in drugs and two firearms, focusing solely on county lines; this was achieved using existing resources;


d)    The operation was not measured on arrests but on the safeguarding and protection of children;


e)    In July 2022, during the second phase of Operation Scorpion the police seized 613 cannabis plants, 10,401 ecstasy doses and £180,000 in cash;


f)     In December 2022, during the third phase of Operation Scorpion the police focused on the evening and night-time economy which led to 70 arrests, 12 children and 10 adults were safeguarded as well as the seizing of 5kg of drugs, one firearm ad £51,000 in cash;


g)    In April 2023, during phase four of Operation Scorpion the police focused on drugs-related violence and 162 arrests were made as well as 11kg of drugs, 15 firearms and £514,065 in cash seized;


h)    In July 2023, during phase five of Operation Scorpion there were 58 raids on commercial cannabis growing operations which led to 67 arrests as well as the police seizing cannabis worth £6.5 million (164kg), a 9mm handgun and £73,000 in cash;


i)     Phase six of Operation Scorpion took place in October 2023 to coincide with the national County Lines Intensification Week and led to 94 arrests and the police seizing drugs worth £245,699, three luxury watches, £45,774 in cash, four cars, five laptops and 22 mobiles;


j)     Merseyside Police had created Operation Medusa which aided in the closure of a large drugs operation on the Lizard Peninsula, out of which 36 drug lines were identified and heroin and cocaine was seized with a street value of £1.36 million; 


k)    Phase seven of Operation Scorpion would take place in spring 2024 and would be led by Dorset Police.


In response to questions, it was explained:


l)     The police were actively collaborating with councils to address the underage sale of vapes and the potential risk of drugs being introduced into vape products;


m)  Crimestoppers information would be added to the Council Tax leaflet to inform the public of their contact details;


n)    The establishment of additional residential drug treatment centres was deemed necessary to assist individuals requiring removal from their communities;


o)    Operation Scorpion aimed to instigate a cultural shift in policing regarding drugs and drug-use;


p)    The objective for the next phase of Operation Scorpion would be aligned with addressing serious and organised crime, employing the ‘Clear, Hold and Build’ approach;


q)    Enforcement of the laws pertaining to Class B and C drugs would serve as an educational exercise, highlighting the consequences of recreational drug-use;


r)    Operation Scorpion was implemented to impact communities by targeting localised drug-use, shifting the focus from the supply aspect;


s)     The wait list for therapeutic services for Young Victims of Crime service was 6 months;


t)     There was a new victim care website at for Devon and Cornwall;


The Committee agreed to note the plan as set out and the following actions:


1.    To request the Commissioner would investigate information about legal drug levels when driving under the influence to bring to the next panel;


2.    To request Crimestoppers contact information to be included on the next published Council Tax leaflet;


3.    To request Links to Young Person’s Victim Services and Victim Care for under 18s be sent to all panel members;


4.    To request the Commissioner ask David Sidwick about work with the Local Government Association on vaping enforcement and drugs added to vapes.

Supporting documents: