Police raids in Raunds and Rushden as part of Op Viper

A needle found inside the property in Weighbridge Way, Raunds
A needle found inside the property in Weighbridge Way, Raunds

Officers have been breaking down the doors of properties in Raunds and Rushden today (Friday) as part of Op Viper.

The operation is the force’s crackdown on serious and organised crime, particularly those people involved in drug, violence and firearms offences.

The smashed window at the home in Weighbridge Way, Raunds

The smashed window at the home in Weighbridge Way, Raunds

Today’s first raid saw more than a dozen officers search a property in Weighbridge Way, Raunds, just after midday.

A number of unmarked and marked police vehicles as well as the dog unit drew up outside the property before the front door and a window were smashed in so officers could get in.

In less than a minute, the team were inside and the property was secured in case anyone inside tried to escape.

While the resident was not at home, they had a warrant to search and found drug paraphernalia including several needles.

Another needle found in the property at Weighbridge Way, Raunds

Another needle found in the property at Weighbridge Way, Raunds

No stone was left unturned as they searched through the house, going through cupboards, drawers and even checking packets of food where illegal substances may have been concealed.

They also went through clothing, bedding and bags.

Speaking at the property, Chief Inspector Julie Mead said this raid was about safeguarding the resident who could potentially be a victim of cuckooing.

This is where gangs take over the homes of vulnerable people in order to deal drugs.

Ch Insp Mead said: “There is potential that this resident could be a victim of cuckooing.

“Our job is not just about putting doors in, it is about safeguarding members of the public.”

Ch Insp Mead said the force has been working with numerous organisations as part of Op Viper, including councils across the county.

She says it is imperative that they work together as partners as they can’t just arrest their way out of crime.

However, while the search was taking place, officers outside the property came across a man they wanted to speak to in relation to an unrelated crime and he was subsequently arrested.

Leaving the house in the care of the housing association it belongs to, the officers’ next call was at a house in Irchester Road, Rushden, at about 2pm.

Again, the team were inside the house quickly after force was used to break down the door of the private property.

There were a number of people inside, although it is not yet known if any arrests have been made.

A spokesman for the force said items found in the house included a knuckle-duster.

Intelligence was gathered by the force before each of these raids were carried out, and further intelligence will have been gleaned from the searches.

A PCSO was part of today’s team to knock on doors and speak to neighbours afterwards about why they were there and to provide reassurance following the police activity in their street.

But today’s raids are not the end of it, further raids and days of action are due to be carried out by police in the coming weeks and months.

Officers are hoping to make arrests and take those involved in serious organised crime off the streets as well as raise awareness about issues such as cuckooing.