‘High harm’ individuals, the sex trade and cracking drugs rings will be the top prorities for Peterborough’s crime fighting partnership

The city’s Safer Peterborough Partnership has said it will target ‘high harm’ individuals, getting sex workers off the streets and disrupting the drug trade in Peterborough as its key priorities.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 4:12 pm
Cannabis found at a property in Peterborough by police last month.

Speaking to members of the Crime and Disorder Scrutiny Committee at their online meeting (2 March), Rob Hill, Assistant Director Community Safety, explained: “The 1998 Crime and Disorder Act established partnerships between local authorities, the police and police authorities, fire service, probation service, health authorities, the voluntary sector, local residents and businesses.

“The SPP has been created as a direct result of that, and through its success over the past year will continue to focus on three key-areas helping to create safer communities.

“The first is ‘High Harm’, dealing with those individuals who cause a disproportionate impact within our communities.

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“The second is a focus on street sex-workers and sex exploitation; while the third key-area is drug intervention.

“In addition to these three focus areas, the SPP in cooperation with other city-wide partners have brought together our volunteer sector during Covid-19 at the Peterborough Hub, which will remain the focus for work to help all people who have a need, no matter what it may be, at this time of crisis.

“The SPP has also completed two domestic homicide reviews in the past year, both having now been concluded, the findings of which have just been approved by the Home Office.

“As a result, a number of recommendations have been accepted to enhance support of victims of domestic violence.

“Notably, this included recognising a point previously raised by this Committee to improve outreach support for victims of the ‘A8’ Eastern European communities: Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

“And, as a direct result of that, we’ve been able to recruit specialist independent domestic abuse advisors with the required language skills, and who are now working in that area.”

Newly appointed Area Commander for Peterborough and Fenland at Cambridgeshire Constabulary, Superintendent Kate Anderson, added: “Operation Spotlight is our drug intervention working group which has a four-point objective: ‘Preparing’ ourselves to working in partnership tackling drug dealing in Peterborough, ‘Protecting’ those who are vulnerable to exploitation, the important role for ‘Prevention’ as well as ‘Pursuing’ those responsible.

“The working group is now well established and we have consistent attendance from a number of voluntary groups and agencies who are supporting us.

“We’ve had a number of notable successes – in just one week at the end of January they undertook three warrants, identifying and dismantling cannabis factories at each property, seizing drugs worth over £25,000 and more than £100,000 of cash and two high-performance vehicles.

“Of the multiple arrests, one has already pleaded ‘guilty’ and is awaiting sentencing, while two more were remanded into custody with the investigation ongoing in respect of the others arrested.

“We will continue to tackle those individuals who are responsible for causing the most harm in this area, with further covert activity planned for the coming months in conjunction with our neighbourhood policing teams.

“It is fair to say that we’ve seen a rise in violence against our local drug users all linked to a single individual, possibly enforcing his drug debts.

“We continue to try to tackle those perceived as exploiting others involved in drug dealing, and what we’ve found in the last few weeks is that we have been able to prosecute one of those individuals that we believed was essentially committing a modern slavery offence.

“He has now been charged with that and other drug dealing offences within our local area.”

Cllr Julie Howell congratulated the team on its work in the communities, asking: “Which organisations that are on the group are specific to drug intervention and would it be possible to get Ward Councillors more involved, as I’m sure there are more ways we can contribute to this work?

“The crime around drug use is becoming higher profile, and with our links into communities I can’t help but feel we could support your work in more ways than we already are.”

Superintendent Anderson in thanking the councillor for her offer of support, replied: “Our drug and alcohol support services locally are through ‘Aspire, Change, Grow, Live’, and they’re very well linked into our Operation Spotlight.

“And they contribute to the work that we’re doing in relation to the other SPP partnerships as well.

“I would be more than happy to put you in touch with the chair for that Committee and maybe they can then set up a meeting to identify just how best Ward Councillors can contribute to their work.”

Members congratulated the work being doing already, and gave it their ongoing support.