Eight people have been arrested and a number of weapons and suspected Class A drugs seized as police and partners launched a major multi-agency operation to tackle drug crime and criminal exploitation in a number of tower blocks in Bedford.
In a first for the force, Bedfordshire Police officers will be looking to secure a partial closure order on an entire block of flats at court on Friday, July 31, as part of the initiative to drive out criminality for the longer term.
Officers from the Bedford community policing team executed warrants at three different addresses within Chandos Court and Richbell Court on Thursday, July 30, as part of the operation.
Once inside, eight people were arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs. A number of weapons, including a Samurai sword, and suspected Class A drugs were also recovered.
Bedfordshire Police, housing association bpha and Bedford Borough Council have been working together with members of the community over concerns of drugs and anti-social behaviour in the flats for more than a year.
Following the warrants, police and partners took part in a day of action in the area to safeguard other residents in the block, restoring CCTV, security doors and fire alarms to make the block safer. The team also spoke to residents to reassure them of the ongoing work taking place and letting them know how to report any concerns they may have.
On Friday, the community policing team will be seeking a full closure order on the three addresses at Luton Magistrates’ Court. They will also be applying for a partial closure order on Chandos Court, meaning that only those who reside within the addresses are able to enter, which will be the first time Bedfordshire Police has used this power.
Inspector Samantha Hunt, from the Bedford community policing team, said: “We take reports of these issues very seriously and know the damaging impact drugs and anti-social behaviour can have on our communities.
“Tackling organised crime and the exploitation that comes with it is something we play a key role in, but it is only by working with our partners and communities that we can take this more holistic approach and come up with long term solutions.
“We have been working with our partners for months on this ongoing operation and we will use all the powers available to us to protect the vulnerable in our society.
“Our investigation into these issues is ongoing and we remain committed to stamping out organised crime and exploitation in our community.”
Kevin Bolt, bpha’s chief executive, said: “This outcome is a really good piece of joint working with our partners and is testament to the hard work we have been doing over a number of months to make these homes a better place to live for our communities.
“We have listened to what our residents have told us and will continue to work in partnership to tackle the issues they have raised, and strive to make a real difference to the lives of our customers and the wider community.”
Cllr Colleen Atkins, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety at Bedford Borough Council, said: “Partnership working which brings together expertise from the council, Bedfordshire Police and bpha alongside our communities really is key in the success of these kinds of operations.
“This operation is just one part of our ongoing work to tackle drug crime and the exploitation of vulnerable people, and we will continue to work with our local communities to keep people safe.” You can report concerns around drug activity and wider anti-social behaviour via the online reporting centre on Bedfordshire Police’s website.
Alternatively you can contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.