Hundreds arrested and drugs seized during year-long crime blitz in Ashington

Some of the drugs confiscated during Operation Momentum.Some of the drugs confiscated during Operation Momentum.
Some of the drugs confiscated during Operation Momentum.
Police have arrested more than 500 people and seized heroin, crack cocaine, cannabis and amphetamines in a year-long crackdown on serious and organised crime in Ashington.

Officers have also executed 27 warrants, carried out five evictions, closed down two properties and taken 150 cars off the road during the operation, codenamed Momentum.

Inspector Chrissie Skillen, from the Ashington Neighbourhood Policing Team, has played a leading role in the day-to-day management of the operation.

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She said: “Ashington is a town with an enormous sense of community spirit. I want to stress that it is a minority of people involved in drug misuse and associated crime, the overwhelming majority of people here love their community and want to see it thrive.

A sniffer dog and handler at the scene of a raid in April.A sniffer dog and handler at the scene of a raid in April.
A sniffer dog and handler at the scene of a raid in April.

“I am delighted with the results we have seen through this dedicated operation, and thanks to community intelligence and support, we’ve put a real dent in the pockets of organised criminals.”

Community engagement has also proved vital in helping to protect some of the area’s most vulnerable.

Officers have been working closely with Northumberland County Council, social services and charities and partners to identify children and adults at risk of drug abuse or exploitation and remove them from harmful situations.

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Insp Skillen added: “This initiative is not just about targeting drug dealers, its aim is much deeper, to disrupt organised crime under the banner of Operation Sentinel and protect the community of Ashington.

Police executed 27 warrants during the crime crackdown.Police executed 27 warrants during the crime crackdown.
Police executed 27 warrants during the crime crackdown.

“Drug dealers or anyone involved in this type of offending do not make for good neighbours and no one should have to live with the impact of such activity. I would encourage everyone to keep supporting us, by being our eyes and ears and providing information to help tackle illegal activity.

“Together we can ensure Ashington remains a safe place to live and work and an area we can all be proud to be associated with.”

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: "This is one of those operations that is going from strength to strength; we've seen a significant amount of drugs taken off the street in the last year – really fantastic police work. We all want to rid Ashington of drugs and associated crime and I know Northumbria Police certainly won't be slowing down their fight to tackle these problems.

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"Remember, all this kind of activity is linked to increased anti-social behaviour and violence in our communities and it's unacceptable. This work will not stop. So, if you know anything, get in touch with your Ashington Neighbourhood policing team and report it – you might just have that bit of information that is key.

"My Violence Reduction Unit will also keep up efforts supporting our police with prevention work, stopping people from getting drawn into the world of crime in the first place.

Northumberland County Councillor Christine Dunbar, who chairs the Northumberland Safer Partnership, said: “The supply of illegal drugs wreck lives, destroy relationships and blights our communities and is linked with violence, the exploitation of children and vulnerable adults, anti-social behaviour and crimes such as burglary and theft.

“This long-running operation in Ashington has been incredibly successful and community support has played an important part. I want to thank residents for having the courage to come forward and provide vital information which has helped catch offenders and keep residents safe.”