THE CRACKDOWN on drug-related crime and violence in Southampton will be rolled out across the county following its success in the city.
Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Hayes has announced that the force will commit another £1.77m to Operation Fortress – meaning it will be extended Hampshire-wide.
Mr Hayes said that the project, which has seen more than 60 people convicted for drug-related offences, deserved the funding boost.
Launched in 2012 following an initial £2m investment, the two-year project has seen numerous large-scale coordinated raids staged around Southampton in a bid to disrupt the drug networks around Southampton, and in turn prevent violence associated with the dealing by organised gangs.
Backed by the Daily Echo, Operation Fortress also works to strengthen links within communities to make it easier for the public to report drug-related crimes and improve the coordination of services that help rehabilitate drug users.
It is this work that has now been secured for another year following the funding announcement by the PCC.
Mr Hayes paid tribute to the work of the Operation Fortress team led by Det Supt Kath Barnes.
He said: “Analysis and research conducted by the Operation Fortress team has demonstrated that a buoyant drugs market leads to a significant increase in violence.
“Much of this has predominantly been linked to crime gangs operating out of the capital. It is therefore essential that we continue this targeted intelligence led work to make the whole of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight a hostile place for those who ply their trade in illegal and mind altering substances on our streets.”
Chief Constable Andy Marsh said: “Having the team in place for a further 12 months gives us flexibility to focus on embedding the successes of the campaign throughout the organisation while work is ongoing to restructure the force.”
Detective Superintendent Barnes added: “I’d like to extend my thanks to all those agencies and police colleagues who’ve worked with us over the last two years.”