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Lancs and NCA land major blow against organised crime

A regional crime partnership has yielded hundreds of arrests of serious criminals.

Some of the country’s toughest offenders involved in drug, gang and gun crime have been taken off the streets.

A multi-agency response to organised crime has led to hundreds of arrests, a PCC has revealed.

The number of people arrested by Lancashire Police for involvement in organised crime has increased by 57% over the past year.

The force’s Police and Crime Commissioner Andrew Snowden revealed 791 arrests were made in the 12 months to December compared with 505 in 2019. And the number of charges has also jumped by 79% from 126 to 226.

He revealed that behind the arrests is a partnership with the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit and the National Crime Agency.

As well as the opportunity to prioritise major offenders due to a drop in day-to-day offending during lockdown, the partnership has made maximum use of intelligence shared from Operation Venetic.

This is the on-going operation targeting criminals who used the Encrochat mobile encryption service which was broken by EU forces in the summer of 2020.

The North West ROCU includes partner agencies, the NCA plus officers from Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside and North Wales.

They have arguably one of the toughest beats in the country for organised crime.

An NCA assessment of Encrochat data shortly after it was received revealed gangs in Liverpool had control of the majority of drug flows outside London and Manchester was the unofficial gun capital of the UK.

The Merseyside gangs had links to the wider region as well as major cartels in South America.

But that isn’t the limit of activity; last month the ROCU revealed it is also investigating county drugs lines, child sexual exploitation, cybercrime and modern-day slavery.  

Assistant Chief Constable Chris Green said: “Despite the various ongoing challenges of the global pandemic we have continued to tackle and take down the most serious, hardened and organised criminals who pose the most serious threat to our communities, thereby making those communities safer.

“With the support of the vast majority of those communities and thanks to the hard work of our officers and officers within the North West police forces and partner agencies, a large number of prolific criminals are behind bars and we’ve taken significant quantities of drugs and illegal firearms off the streets.”

The data was revealed as part of discussions to set priorities for the next 12 months.

PCC Snowden said: "It's pleasing to see statistics such as the arrests of those involved in organised crime highlight the intelligence led, round-the-clock work carried out by officers here in Lancashire, in the wider region and nationally.

“I, like most people, want to see more doors put through, more assets seized and more criminals behind bars as I lead the fight against crime and back officers to stop offenders in their tracks."

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