‘The drugs gangs were taking the p***’ – Northants' top cop on rooting out the county lines

He has spoken about his ‘Matters of Priority’

Thursday, 12th May 2022, 9:48 am
Updated Thursday, 12th May 2022, 10:48 am

Northamptonshire’s top cop Chief Constable Nick Adderley has outlined his priorities for the county over the next three years, promising to ‘double down’ on the most serious criminality.

Drugs harm, serious organised crime, violence against women and girls, and serious violence will all be targeted as Northamptonshire Police’s ‘Matters of Priority’ between now and 2025.

Speaking to this paper as he set out his priorities, Mr Adderley was candid about the the challenges facing those living and working in the county and those policing the towns and villages.

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Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Nick Adderley .

And it’s Northamptonshire’s proximity to the UK’s two largest cities - Birmingham and London - that has drawn ‘county lines’ drug dealers to exploit the area, but it’s not a new phenomenon.

Mr Adderley said: “One of our greatest strengths is our transport network but it’s also one of our weaknesses.

“It’s not a new thing. They have always been here. When I arrived we looked under the right rocks and we found a tale of horror and woe.

"I came in and they (the drugs gangs) were taking the p***. It was happening in plain sight.”

Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Nick Adderley talks with colleagues at the Kettering and Corby HQ

Mr Adderley has vowed to continue its ‘relentless’ focus on tackling and dismantling county lines drugs gangs being proactive and with early intervention and prevention.

He said: “We have taken out seven heads of crime groups. Sometimes patience is a virtue – we will pick up intel. We have kicked down doors in London – speed is of the essence. We are going to double down.”

Drugs continue to be a catalyst for neighbourhood crime such as burglary, vehicle theft, street robbery and wider organised criminality.

Northants Police will be targeting the drug dependants as well as dealers who ‘plague’ the county by cutting off the head of the ‘snake’.

Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Nick Adderley

He said: “The drug dealers should be sleeping with one eye open. It’s the same faces - it’s a revolving door of the same people - they are serial offenders. It’s hugely expensive for tax payers.

"It’s predominantly drugs (offences) with huge volumes of the same people.”

The priority areas have been identified by the police based on a measure of ‘actual threat’ and ‘risk’ posed to county communities as well as gathered intelligence and residents’ feedback.

Since the horrific kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving Metropolitan Police officer, the chief has vowed that the focus of attention on any inappropriate conduct by police officers will be greater than ever.

Matters of Priority have been announced by Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Nick Adderley

His officers will be continuing to focus on domestic violence, and violence against women and victims have been reassured that their reports will be taken seriously and with support.

He said: “One of the challenges is getting the victims of domestic violence to be confident to come forward. We have seen an increase in ‘victimless’ prosecutions where the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will use body-worn video evidence. The CPS is working with us but it’s so difficult.”

Some women find it very hard to leave relationships even though they are at serious risk of violence. Perpetrators are arrested if necessary to protect the victim and are encouraged to seek help to change their behaviour.

He said: “By arresting someone we are taking them away from the victim, taking them out of the situation and giving the victim space.

"The amount of referrals to social services and the local authorities has gone up three-fold for anger management courses. Some people will engage in these and some people want to change their behaviour.”

In the past year the force has reported a fall in the number of repeat victims and a rise in successful outcomes for perpetrators.

Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Nick Adderley

But the two high-profile murders in Kettering, where Maddie Durdant-Hollamby and Marta Chmielecka were killed, have brought domestic violence to the forefront.

He said: “After every single murder we do an in-depth review to see if we could have stopped it. What could we have done to prevent it?

"Each single death is a failure of a number of agencies – and society. In my mind it’s a sad indictment of society. It makes me more determined.”

And with the battle against young people and knife crime he wants to get the message across that an attitudinal shift is needed.

He said: “A key part is to get on board people who understand that generation, to tap into that cohort. It’s not cool to carry a knife.”

Mr Adderley has also promised the force will step up its efforts to combat the many forms of serious and organised crime - cyber-crime and fraud, breaking up labour and sexual exploitation in networks linked to modern slavery and human trafficking, foreign national criminality, and firearms.

Last month, 27 slaves being exploited by Corby-based Romanian gang were rescued during raids smashing organised crime gangs – another priority.

He said: “Most people wouldn’t believe we have slaves in our area – one room with 20 to 30 people sleeping on sodden mattresses. We need to make a stand. The Human Rights Act is there to protect people.”

But Mr Adderley says that some of those being exploited are shocked and sometimes confused when they are freed – they want to be in the UK.

He said: “They think it’s OK - they are here illegally and we are taking them out.”

Residents have been asked to keep their ‘eyes peeled’ for people being exploited especially in HMOs and jobs including nail bars. Mr Adderley has appointed a superintendent to oversee those arriving on the Home for Ukraine scheme are protected.

A frustration for Mr Adderley is that Covid has delayed many trials causing some witnesses and victims to withdraw their statements - and the length of sentences.

He said: “A lot of the defendants know that witnesses are less likely to come to court. The victims feel more nervous and their enthusiasm fails, they don’t want to see the prosecution through. We are finding more that more people are not prepared to see it through. I’m frustrated. The CPS wanted to see justice done.

”I do get frustrated sometimes with the sentencing - there are sentencing guidelines – but you have to leave it to the courts. We have a good relationship with the magistrates and crown courts."

Mr Adderley has promised the ‘Matters of Priority’ will be the focus of ‘relentless activity’ between now and 2025.

He added: “This time the net has widened, and our focus intensified for even longer on those who seek to cause misery to law-abiding people right across this county. We will be unwavering in our pursuit of these offenders over the next three years, and I know with the help of the communities we serve, we will succeed.”