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Police in riot gear storm Norwich flat as neighbours vent frustration over drug problems on estate

PUBLISHED: 16:44 17 May 2019

Police raid a property as part of Operation Gravity. Photo: Archant

Police raid a property as part of Operation Gravity. Photo: Archant

Archant

Neighbours in a Norwich estate have voiced their frustration over a growing drugs problem on their doorstep, as officers in riot gear smashed their way into a flat.

21 police officers, including a team of six in full riot gear, were used to target properties of suspected drug dealers in Norwich. Archant21 police officers, including a team of six in full riot gear, were used to target properties of suspected drug dealers in Norwich. Archant

Some 20 police officers swooped on a one-bedroom flat in Heathgate on Friday, joined by a police dog unit and drone team.

Sergeant Mark Shepherd, of Norfolk police, said the activity in the address was impacting the east and north of Norwich, an area covering nearly half of the city.

Due to a potential threat of one of the suspects possessing a Taser, around half a dozen officers in the police support unit (PSU) wore riot gear - protected by a visored helmet and armed with a shield.

Norfolk police raiding a property in Heathgate, Norwich as part of Operation Gravity. Picture: ArchantNorfolk police raiding a property in Heathgate, Norwich as part of Operation Gravity. Picture: Archant

A row of five police vehicles and vans sped across the city centre towards Heathgate, where neighbours and passersby looked on as a line of officers charged towards the first-storey flat.

Shards of glass and splinters of wood flew in all directions as police officers smashed their way into the property before a sniffer dog scouted the area.

But after a thorough search of the run-down, grimy flat, officers were not able to locate any drugs and the suspects were nowhere to be found.

This could be your door next. Norfolk police warn drug dealers in Norwich as they raid a property in Heathgate,  as part of Operation Gravity. Picture: ArchantThis could be your door next. Norfolk police warn drug dealers in Norwich as they raid a property in Heathgate, as part of Operation Gravity. Picture: Archant

Despite the lack of drugs and paraphernalia, officers located knives stashed behind a sofa and stereo speaker, a saw hidden behind the radiator and a sock with a large stone tied inside it.

Sgt Shepherd said the raid was unsuccessful as no drugs were found, but he emphasised the importance of the community aspect of Operation Gravity - Norfolk police's crackdown on county lines drug dealing. 
"We can't solve the issue alone," said Sgt Shepherd. "If the community doesn't want to speak to us directly they can speak anonymously to Crimestoppers, but we need the public to tell us what is going on."

Despite the loud commotion happening at their doorstep, neighbours in the estate were seemingly unfazed by the drug raid.

Norfolk police raiding a property in Heathgate, Norwich as part of Operation Gravity. Picture: ArchantNorfolk police raiding a property in Heathgate, Norwich as part of Operation Gravity. Picture: Archant

One man said: "It's getting beyond a joke, we've had problems like this for years."

Chief constable Simon Bailey has in the past said public services needed to do more to stifle problems associated with drugs.

"As the chief has said, we can't arrest our way out of this, we need multi-agency partners to step up," said Sgt Shepherd.

Norfolk police searching nearby woodland after raiding a property suspected of dealing drugs in Heathgate, Norwich. Picture: ArchantNorfolk police searching nearby woodland after raiding a property suspected of dealing drugs in Heathgate, Norwich. Picture: Archant

Let us know and we will act. Norfolk Police urge the public to report suspected drug dealing in Norwich.
Picture: ArchantLet us know and we will act. Norfolk Police urge the public to report suspected drug dealing in Norwich. Picture: Archant

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