A brand new task force has been launched by Northamptonshire Police to crackdown on criminals believed to be involved in crimes such as drug supply, firearms offences, fraud, cybercrime, child sexual exploitation, modern slavery and human trafficking.
The new organised crime strategy, Operation Viper, aims to "robustly" tackle urban street gangs and those in possession of guns, which will start this summer in a year-long campaign to clamp down on violence across the county.
In order to do this the force will increase the number of officers on patrol, execute more warrants on properties across the county and, they say, officers will make arrests '"whenever possible".
Assistant Chief Constable James Andronov, who has worked for the force for just over a year, said he has seen trends in crime change over time.
“I think the levels of violence that people are prepared to exhibit has grown. The propensity to carry weapons has grown - certainly bladed articles and knives," he said.
“We’ve also seen the type of exploitation with vulnerable people really grow as well. Behind many of these crimes there are people who are being exploited in any number of different ways, we see local vulnerable people have their premises being used for drug dealing against their will, which we call cuckooing.
“We see people being exploited sexually and made to work against their will and carry drugs and money and operate in drug dealing against their will as well. That level of complexity is new and is growing for us. That is why Operation Viper is about stepping up and tackling this."
Over the past two years, as part of a different task force called Operation Worcester, Northamptonshire Police have bagged almost 300 years in prison for people convicted of gang-related crime in Wellingborough, East Northants and Northampton. Operation Viper now aims to build on this success.
"Organised crime is about making money using criminal means to exploit other people - they tend to start in areas where they have the greatest areas of population," James added.
"For us the bigger towns across the county tend to be the areas where we see the biggest problems. Northampton is one of those but we’ve seen those problems in Kettering, Corby and Daventry as well.
"We are starting to see in different places across the country, and in Northamptonshire, drug lines being used in quite rural areas and rural settings and we are employing the community to help us understand where those are so we can target and disrupt them."
Stephen Mold has provided additional funds to the force in order to bolster its serious and organised crime team.
He urges everyone to play their part and pass on any information they have about crime to our police force.
He said: “I know from speaking to people around the county that there is concern about violent and serious crime and I know that police officers and staff have been working incredibly hard on this issue, against the background of dealing with high profile events such as the World Cup and Silverstone.
“People do appreciate the hard work that is being done and I’d ask everyone to play their part and pass on any information they have about crime.
“I understand people’s concern but I want to make sure that the only people in fear are the criminals that is why I supported the force with additional resources for the Serious and Organised Crime Team. We cannot do it alone and will be working hard with partners to crack down on crime and the people who commit it.”
If you have any concerns or would like to report any information to police you can call police on 101, report crime online or via independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.