A total of 81 officers and staff have been given prestigious awards for their efforts in an unprecedented clampdown on serious crime which has seen more than £1 million in cash and 162 kilos of drugs seized.
For many, the pandemic brought normal life to a standstill but for police forces across the country, it brought a unique opportunity to unite against dangerous crime as part of Operation Venetic – the country’s biggest most significant crackdown on organised criminality.
Here in the North East, the activity saw officers from the North East Regional Special Operations Unit (NERSOU) carry out 18 criminal disruptions, and assist the forces of Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland with 43 others.
These disruptions, ranging from search warrants to vehicle stops and dawn raids, saw a total of £1,709,126 cash and 162.6 kilos of drugs recovered, the seizure of 10 encrypted devices, a drugs press, luxury goods and a haul of firearms, including a hand-made grenade. Of the 80 arrests made – 17 have since been charged and a number already brought to justice.
And last week, that monumental effort was recognised when a cohort of officers and police staff from NERSOU were given commendations from Chief Constable Winton Keenen of Northumbria Police, in a socially distanced ceremony.
Chief Constable Keenen said: “I continue to be very impressed with the work NERSOU carries out on behalf of our region.
“These results are a testament to the hard work and dedication of all the officers and staff who are not only committed to tackling serious and organised crime under the banner of Operation Venetic, but in all its forms.
“Thank you all for your relentless pursuit of dangerous offenders, and for working with the public, local businesses and partners to make our communities a better place.”
Head of NERSOU, Detective Chief Superintendent Alastair Simpson added: “My officers work round the clock to keep our communities safe from the ripple effects of serious and organised crime.
“Thanks to this activity we have seen dangerous offenders arrested and jailed, harmful substances seized before they can reach our streets, and organised criminals stripped of the assets they need to continue their shady activities.
“What’s great about Operation Venetic is that the public have been given an opportunity to see what can happen when police forces and regional crime units across the country work together, sharing information to disrupt and dismantle organised criminal groups and safeguard those caught up in between.
“I want to take this opportunity to praise all those involved in Operation Venetic. Your work really has made a difference, and I hope this commendation is reminder of the role you have played in not only pursuing some of the most dangerous offenders, but in making the North East a safer place.
“We will proudly continue our work alongside Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland in the fight against organised crime – under our regional banner of Operation Sentinel.”
NERSOU was established in October 2013, plays a key role in tackling serious and organised crime in the region and is made up of officers from the three forces of Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland.