Criminals jailed for more than 140 years in 2021 thanks to regional organised crime unit which covers Cambridgeshire
Organised crime group leaders, drug dealers and a voyeuristic doctor are just some of the people who will be facing this Christmas behind bars, thanks to the work of the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU).
ERSOU was created in 2010, and is funded by the seven police forces that make up the eastern region: Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Essex and Kent with Bedfordshire Police being the lead force. It made up of both police officers and staff from across the region.
ERSOU’s Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) is tasked with managing the threat posed by crime types such as drugs, firearms, online child sexual exploitation and cybercrime, amongst others.
Investigations by the ROCU in 2021 have resulted in criminals being jailed for a total of 141 years, while approximately 88 kilos of Class A drugs, 33 kilos of Class B drugs and 12 firearms have been removed from the streets.
Highlights of the year include:
12 members of an organised drugs business convicted for supplying large quantities of Class A drugs across the country
A doctor jailed for two years and eight months for using hidden cameras to spy on women
An OCG jailed for more than 32 years for running a cannabis factory network
A man jailed after a sub-machine gun was found in his Bedfordshire flat
More than £2 million worth of Class A drugs recovered following warrants in Cambridgeshire
Officers and staff use a range of specialist tactics and work closely alongside police forces and partner agencies to disrupt dangerous offenders operating across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent.
Hannah Wilkinson, head of the ROCU, said: “This year has continued to present difficulties for all of us, but we have been able to continue to navigate the ongoing challenges of the pandemic while maximising our impact on organised crime.
“Thanks to the incredible hard work and dedication of our officers and staff, some very dangerous criminals have been taken off the streets and are now facing their first Christmas of many behind bars.
“We’ve also taken substantial quantities of Class A drugs out of circulation, along with numerous firearms.
“All of this undoubtedly helps make the region a safer place – but we know there is always more to do.
“We’re looking forward to continuing to work alongside our partners to protect the public from the threat of serious and organised crime in 2022.”
Alongside tackling organised crime, financial investigations in the unit’s economic crime teams have been maximising their use of Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) legislation, resulting in convicted criminals being ordered to pay back millions of pounds.
Paul Fitzsimmons, senior financial investigation manager for ERSOU, said: “Throughout 2021 our officers and staff have yet again worked tirelessly to strip criminals of their ill-gotten gains which are often their main motivating factor for committing crime in the first place.
“More than £6 million has been confiscated from criminals or forfeited under civil powers as we continue to maximise our use of POCA legislation. Victims have also had more than £800,000 returned to them in compensation, while we’ve also proactively recovered more than £2 million worth of assets on outstanding orders.
“We’re looking forward to continuing our work in 2022, demonstrating to criminals ranging from low level fraudsters to organised crime group leaders, and everything in between, that they will be made to pay.”