Revealed: Full extent of drug-dealers' invasion of Norfolk
PUBLISHED: 12:48 11 January 2020 | UPDATED: 13:25 11 January 2020
The full influx of people from London flooding Norfolk with heroin and cocaine can be revealed as part of new police figures.
Norfolk Constabulary declared a "critical incident" at the end of 2016 following a spike in drug-related violence which included the murder of Steve Stannard who was ambushed in his Norwich flat and stabbed multiple times by London drug-dealer Hassiem Baqir.
The force's response to this unprecedented rise in serious violence was to launch Operation Gravity - a high profile drugs crackdown, which has been played out in almost full view of the public gaze, and has had a particular emphasis on targeting the London-based criminal contingent.
And of the 1503 arrests made as part of the blitz between December 2016 and the end of November last year, 443 of those (29.4per cent) were from London compared to the 639 arrests (42.5per cent) of people from Norfolk according to figures from Norfolk Police obtained following a Freedom of Information (FoI) request.
The figures also reveal that 25 (1.6per cent) of those arrested to date are from Essex, while 21 (1.3per cent) are from Cambridgeshire, 14 (0.93 per cent) are from neighbouring Suffolk and 13 (0.8per cent) are from Hertfordshire.
There have been 11 people (0.73per cent) arrested from Liverpool, five from Nottinghamshire (0.3per cent) and 53 (3.5per cent) from areas unknown.
Chief Superintendent Dave Marshall said: "A common feature in county lines drug supply is the exploitation of young and vulnerable people who, often through threats of violence, are used to act as runners to move drugs and cash from county to county. Since Operation Gravity began in 2016, Norfolk police have worked closely with neighbouring forces, including the Metropolitan Police, to target those dealers both in Norfolk and at the other end of the drugs lines who exploit young people and prey on the most vulnerable members of our community. However we cannot be complacent and it is important we continue to work with other forces across the country, along with partner agencies, to make Norfolk a difficult environment for those who think they can come into our county and deal drugs."