CRIME crackers pounced in a pre-Christmas purge on criminals who had been shopped by sharp-eyed Borderers using social website Facebook, writes Bob Burgess.
Drugs, including cannabis and amphetamine, contraband tobacco, booze and cash – worth around £20,000 in total – were seized in a dawn raid on a house in Hawick’s Charles Street.
Police said that significant intelligence was obtained in two swoops on homes in Chay Blyth Place and McLaren Court.
A van was confiscated during the raids as well as a sword which will be destroyed. The raids were carried out under Operation Opulent which is the enforcement phase of Lothian and Borders Police’s Made from Crime clampdown.
The dawn swoops involved 35 police officers, revenue and customs officials and representatives from the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency. Target houses were also hit elsewhere in the Borders.
Sergeant Garry Ross led the raids which followed an appeal 12 weeks earlier for the public to report people who were clearly living beyond their means and possibly from crimes.
Sgt Ross revealed: “This operation was a direct result of public intelligence. They brought us to the addresses and we are committed to stopping people profiting from criminal activity.”
The operation lasted three days, but police have pledged that their crackdown will continue under Operation Cashback which is the first Proceeds of Crime Act initiative of its kind in Scotland.
With the backing of the Scottish Government and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, it targets people who fund their lifestyles by the proceeds of crime through an intelligence-led campaign.
It is designed to make full use of the legislation which allows officers to seize assets that have been purchased through criminal activity.
For the first time in the local force’s history, people were able to report their concerns online, anonymously if they wished, using Facebook or Bluetooth to link directly to the Crimestoppers website.
At the conclusion of the raids, Sgt Ross commented: “There is nowhere to hide. This is a clear message that we will not accept people profiting from illegal activities.
“The amount of information provided by the public has led us here today. I’ve been very impressed by not only the volume but the quality of information provided by the community. It’s been very refreshing and it gives the public reassurance that we will not stand by and watch this happen.”
Kate Jackson from Crimestoppers added: “We are not interested in who you are, it’s what you know. In over 23 years, we have never broken our promise of anonymity, so no one need fear passing information to us.”
Crimestoppers can be contacted on 0800 555 111 or via the online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.