Ten arrested as police target drug dealing in Dunstable

PCC Holloway, Sgt Bates and Insp. Callow
PCC Holloway, Sgt Bates and Insp. Callow

Ten people were arrested and large quantities of drugs, money and counterfeit money were seized as police targeted drug dealing in Dunstable in a two week operation.

Operation Hilton follows a meeting between residents and Kathryn Holloway, in August, at Dunstable Community Fire Station. At the meeting the residents said the town lacked a visible police presence.

The operation ran over 15 days, with 112 policing hours dedicated to it, delivered by a combination of the Hub and officers from across the Force plus the use of unmarked police cars to gather intelligence to pursue high level suspects.

Over the course of operation, ten arrests were made and large quantities of class A and B drugs, £2,500 in cash, counterfeit money, a pepper spray and multiple mobile phones and vehicles believed to be linked to drugs dealing were seized. In addition, an arrest was made in relation to an individual going equipped to commit a burglary.

Dunstable’s Community Hub of police officers were congratulated by Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, after the successful operation.

She said: “This was a truly outstanding and joined-up piece of police work, designed by Community Hub Sergeant, Louise Bates, based on the intelligence that she and her team had built up painstakingly over many months.

“It meant that doors were going in all over Dunstable and I hope this reassures the community who cannot see plain clothes policing and often wonder what is meant by problem solving in the Community Hubs, that this is the outcome that I believe they are most interested in and most want to see.”

Sergeant Louise Bates planned Operation Hilton, she said: “I joined officers on 99% of the shifts and it was great to see our hard work pay off with multiple arrests. After the operation, I had many officers come up to me asking to sign up for the next one. This is what Community Policing is all about. We want to be catching the criminals who have a detrimental impact on the area.”

Inspector Steve Callow, who oversees the Community Team in Dunstable, said: “This was an intelligence-led operation which allowed us to target those causing most harm to the community. If we simply went after street dealers, they would be replaced in minutes with little disruption to the criminal operation.

“This is why it is so important that we spend time gathering intelligence, when we have limited resources, so we are able to target those higher up the food chain.

“If you are a law abiding citizen, going to work at 8.30am and returning to your family at 6.30pm and living outside criminality, the chances are that you might not see us much.

“That’s because we aren’t after you. We are targeting those in your town exploiting young adults with struggles or vulnerabilities to deal drugs on behalf of, often older, criminals.”

Inspector Callow and Sgt Bates are planning to periodically reintroduce Operation Hilton as part of a policing strategy to “pulse” intensive policing into hotspot areas.

Insp. Callow said: “Pulse policing allows us to have that element of surprise, giving police the upper hand on criminal activity. By using specific days of action to address these issues we are able to work with our limited resources to have the maximum impact and get the best results.

“Criminals won’t know what, when or where we’ll be coming, but we will certainly be targeting this type of criminality again in Dunstable.”

PCC Holloway said: “I couldn’t put it better myself. The idea of pulse policing is that criminals don’t know what they’ll face but it’s coming their way. Operation Hilton has demonstrated how well it works and I intend to support the Force fully with this going forward in Dunstable, as well as in replicating it elsewhere.”

In addition, as the Chief Constable hinted in a public meeting earlier this month at Dunstable Community Fire Station alongside the PCC, both Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard have been subject to additional drugs operations and multiple arrests through the actions of the Eastern Regional Organised Crime Unit in August.