Violent criminals fill void left by Grantham drugs gang

The incident happened in Stowupland Street
The incident happened in Stowupland Street
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The removal of a major drugs supplier in Grantham two years ago left a void filled by outsiders more prone to 
violence.

The comments came in an overview of crime in South Kesteven from Lincolnshire Police chief inspector Simon Outen to district councillors on Tuesday.

His annual overview also revealed:

- Overall crime up 12.7 per cent

- Vehicle crime up 25.5 per cent

- Violence without injury up 20 per cent

- Burglaries down 9.3 per cent

The police also face challenges to funding but extra PCSOs and other officers are being recruited to fill gaps.

Chief Inspector Outen said these latest figures were “the latest”, he could give to the annual South Kesteven policing overview part of SKDC’s communities and wellbeing overview and scrutiny committee.

“We took out a major drug supplier in Grantham two years ago. It created a vacuum for individuals from elsewhere, all over the country, people whose approach to crime was more tough, their propensity for violence was higher,” he said.

However, the incoming dealers were not always able to sell their drugs.

“We had operations. There was a significant number of arrests in town. During the past few months, there has been a reduction in police activity. One thing we are particularly grateful for is the CCTV in South Kesteven which has identified a number of individuals. Drugs will never go away. While we have users we have people prepared to supply. We are seeing a drop-off with regards to drug activity. Increases in recorded drugs crime is as a result of police actions.”

Chf Insp Outen also said South Kesteven was suffering from a “big expansion in bank account fraud.”

Victims would receive phone calls from people claiming to be the police warning about bank account fraud. The elderly and vulnerable were being targeted but the frauds are being done so convincingly “even people who are switched on fall for it.”

He encouraged banks to challenge customers wanting to make large financial withdrawals and to contact police.

People suspecting such fraud should also use another telephone to check with police as the fraudsters had ‘wired up’ phones so people believing they were ringing the police were actually ringing the fraudsters, who would again claim to be police officers.

He advised: “Please don’t ever divulge bank details. Never give money to police officers.”

South Kesteven is also suffering from vehicle crime, especially in Grantham.

However, police operations have yeilded “good results” leading to court proceedings.

Four-to-five months ago, vehicle crime focussed around vans, something which has also seen a resurgence in recent weeks, with people using the A15 corridor between Sleaford and Stamford.

Criminals from outside the district, especially Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, were also targeting vans and tools. The offenders have used cloned number plates and there have been pursuits.

‘Sexting’ was not a huge problem, he said, but something people needed to be aware of.

Councillors were told: “Now as children explore things, they may send indecent images to each other. We are not here to criminalise children. There’s a big safeguarding issue to educate children and keep them safe for the future.”

Chief Inspector Outen gave no figures, but said he was disappointed with a rise in drink-driving and drug-driving over the Christmas holidays, which he put down to increased police activity. The use of ‘drug wipes’ which can detect drugs when applied to the skin also made detection easier.

“It’s disappointing some people still think its appropriate to drink and drive but we are not seeing a high accident rate linked to that.”

Earlier, Chief Inspector Outen reported that across the whole of Lincolnshire, recorded crime had risen by 10.8 per cent, with anti-social behaviour up 6.07 per cent.

He cited police funding, how benefits are being paid, and changes in social structures as potential factors.

Lincolnshire Police still has to resolve funding forumulas with central government, which presently make the force “one of the worst funded nationally.”

He continued: “We are spending our reserves to keep our budgets in balance. After that there will be some difficult decisions. We are not sitting on a massive load of reserves. If we claim financial difficulty, we need to spend our reserves and that is what we are doing.”

During questions, he also said privatisation of back office functions “enabled Lincolnshire Police to survive” and “it works for us.”

Chief Inspector Outen also said rural crime was a focus of Chief Constable Bill Skelly.

Grantham will soon see its PCSO numbers increase from five back up to 11, with Bourne, Stamford and Market deeping having eight. A rural community beat officer would be appointed in February.

South Kesteven has an ‘establishment’ of 67 police. It currently has 64.7 and five more are due to start in March.

Lincolnshire was experiencing “a marked decrease” in hare coursing. It mainly takes place around South Holland with cases also in the Stamford/Bourne area.Police are using 4x4 vehicles and quad bikes to help tackle it.

Drones are proving to be “a godsend” by recording activity from above, finding people hiding in field and helping the fire brigade seek heat spots in fires, said Chf Insp Outen