A West Bridgford Wire reporter accompanied Nottinghamshire Police Rushcliffe Neighbourhood Policing Teams yesterday as they carried out a search warrant under Operation Alaska in Cotgrave.
The warrant, executed at a property on Whitelands in Cotgrave, is part of a new drugs intelligence and enforcement operation – Operation Alaska – which is being undertaken locally to deal with drugs criminality. The warrant was carried out yesterday (Thursday 28 May 2020) by the Rushcliffe Neighbourhood Policing Team and neighbourhood support units.
The day started with an early meet up with Inspector Craig Berry, Neighbourhood Policing Inspector for Rushcliffe, and the teams that were involved in the operation.
It’s important to note that these operations are carried out by neighbourhood policing teams, officers that live and work in Rushcliffe and understand its community.
There are around 15 officers involved on this part of the operation at Cotgrave, a concurrent warrant is also taking place in Ruddington with a team of 10 officers.
Months of police work has led to this point, it is an intelligence-led operation with a view to tackling local drug supply networks in Rushcliffe.
Our reporter met with PC Paul Henson (Beat Manager for West Bridgford neighbourhood policing team) who is a highly-trained and experienced police drone pilot and part of the force’s drone team.
The police drone will provide a birds-eye view of the first part of the operation where officers gain access to the target property.
The purpose of the drone is also to assist in ‘containing’ the address to prevent anyone trying to escape out of the back which, in this case, is an area difficult to get police officers to.
Together with Inspector Berry and PC Henson, we travelled to the drone launch site, a safe area a few hundred yards from the target property.
PC Henson launched the device which was soon sending a highly-detailed live colour video feed to the monitor.
The drone was flown over the property and captured a live feed of the police vehicles arriving at the scene, two specialist vans with around 15 officers soon parked at the house.
The drone pilot’s challenge is to fly the device, monitor the screen view and maintain radio contact with the officers on the ground as they attempt to gain entry. At this point, of course, they don’t know if anyone is in the house or what they may be faced with.
After a period of waiting for information from the search site, Paul receives communication that officers have gained entry to the property and the drone is landed – flight time was 19 minutes.
Our reporter then accompanied the officers by car from the drone site to the property.
Trained search officers have entered the house and commenced their work. Occupants of the property are still present as this takes place.
A specialist dog officer is also there to protect officers should any aggressive or defensive dogs be present.
Inspector Berry explained that the search element can take several hours to complete. Typically in this type of operation, there is a flurry of activity and then a lot of waiting around.
Around 30 minutes later, a specialist police dog unit arrives with PD Baxter, a trained drugs dog. The handler accompanies the PD Baxter into the house to support the search.
Other officers working away from the scene are also looking for a vehicle thought to be linked to the case, information comes through that the vehicle has been located in another part of Rushcliffe and has been seized for a search.
PD Baxter was also led to a wooded area near the scene where suspected drug-related activity has also been reported.
At the scene, officers are highly aware of the effect of this type of operation on the neighbourhood, of course, people nearby are potentially concerned or frightened by the scene unfolding, with this constantly in mind local community support officers visited local neighbouring addresses to offer reassurance and to let them know why the police had taken this action.
Further details were provided by Inspector Berry after the event:
‘Beat Managers supported by specialist search trained officers, a force drug dog and the force drone secured and searched addresses on Abingdon Drive, Ruddington and Whitelands, Cotgrave and also a vehicle in Cotgrave. Evidence of Class A and B drugs were seized at the two addresses two males are to be interviewed at a police station as the investigation progresses.
‘In addition, the drugs dog assisted in a search of a wooded area in Cotgrave where there had been sightings of suspicious drugs-related activity.’