The regional police unit which tackles serious and organised crime across the east has helped secure jail sentences of almost 500 years this year.
The regional organised crime unit (ROCU), which is part of the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), is tasked with managing the threat posed by crime types such as firearms supply, county drugs lines, child sexual exploitation, cybercrime and modern day slavery.
Officers 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.
Over the course of 2019 the unit has led or supported on more than 380 arrests, the seizure of 237 kilograms of Class A drugs and 64 firearms, and helped secure jail sentences of almost 500 years.
Convicted criminals have also been made to pay back £5.8 million as a result of confiscation orders made under the Proceeds of Crime Act legislation while more than £1.6 million has been secured as compensation for victims of crime.
Kathryn Holloway, Police and Crime Commissioner for Bedfordshire Police who are the lead force for ERSOU, said: “The results achieved by the regional organised crime unit are something that I as the Governance lead on behalf of our regions Police and Crime Commissioner’s am incredibly proud of.
"The dedication of each individual team member has contributed to the national reputation ERSOU has for success and has even resulted in them received a world class police award.
"I know that the unit will continue to build upon their 2019 successes in the year ahead.”
Highlights of 2019 include three brothers jailed for committing more than 200 burglary and theft offences in a crime spree across the eastern region, this included stealing tools from vans parked in hotels in Dunstable, Luton, Braintree, and Hemel Hempstead.
Eight people sentenced for a boiler room fraud which conned elderly and vulnerable people out of millions of pounds.
An Ipswich gang member jailed for almost four years for his role in £1 million cyber-fraud scam.
Twelve members of a Luton organised crime group jailed for more than 110 years for running a multi-million pound drugs conspiracy.
Six people jailed for attempting to smuggle migrants across the Channel into Kent
Sixteen people sentenced for running crash for cash scam, the ringleader of the organised crime group was from Luton.
Hannah Wilkinson, Head of the ROCU, said: “2019 has been a fantastic year for our unit, less so for the people across the eastern region who seek to cause harm by carrying out serious and organised crime.
“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our staff and officers, a number of organised crime groups have been dismantled with their members being forced to spend this Christmas and many more behind bars.
"We’ve also seized substantial quantities of illicit substances, and helped remove more than 60 dangerous weapons from circulation.
“We’ve also continued to show that crime doesn’t pay, with our economic crime teams working tirelessly to strip convicted criminals of their ill-gotten gains.“We’re looking forward to continuing to protect the public across the eastern region from the threat of serious and organised crime in 2020.”