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Local News

Drug busts, secret stings and shop spies as Operation Duxford gets underway in ‘land of the living dead’

today15/09/2021

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If there is one thing people of Doncaster want to see, it is more police officers on the streets.

And the town certainly got that today when Operation Duxford arrived to stamp out crime and focus on some of the major issues in the community.

From smashing down doors to finding cannabis farms, chasing wanted criminals to reassuring the local community, it has been a big day of action for the town.

Don’t miss the latest Doncaster news and stories by clicking here.

The operation is the first of its kind since the coronavirus pandemic and has brought together around 100 officers to get out and about on the streets of Doncaster.

It began at 8am this morning with a briefing outside of the College Road Police Station.

Doncaster District Commander, Chief Superintendent Melanie Palin, spoke to officers outside, as well as Mayor Ros Jones and PCC Alan Billings who also came along to see the operation.



The officers gathered for the Operation Duxford briefing outside College Road Police Station
The officers gathered for the Operation Duxford briefing outside College Road Police Station

Superintendent Palin said: “The main focus of today is tackling things that communities have identified as important to them.

“Things such as speed enforcement, off-road bikes, drugs and getting out in the town centre.

“Since Covid we have seen an increase in footfall in the town centre and with that, we have seen a rise in antisocial behaviour, begging, homelessness, drug users and shoplifting.

“A Duxford allows us to bring in resources from other districts to tackle the issues important to our communities throughout the day.

“We move the operation around the districts focusing on certain areas.”

Enter your postcode to see crimes reported in your area

Warrants

The activity started off this morning with two warrants being executed in Somerset Road for a suspected cannabis farms.

Doors were smashed down at the two houses simultaneously and two large cannabis farms found inside.

Inside the first property, three rooms containing over 70 cannabis plants were found. Each plant has an estimated street value of over £1,000.

A 45-year-old man, who was inside the property, was arrested by officers on suspicion of production of cannabis. He remains in police custody.



A man was arrested after a cannabis grow was found at a house in Somerset Road in Doncaster
A man was arrested after a cannabis grow was found at a house in Somerset Road in Doncaster

At the second property, three rooms containing 80 plants were discovered.

A 27-year-old man who was inside the property was arrested by officers on suspicion of production of cannabis. He remains in police custody.

Both grows had systems to bypass electricity systems, heat plants on timers and disguise the smell.

Neighbourhoods Chief Inspector Jayne Forrest said: “Cannabis grows in residential areas like this have a huge impact on our communities.

“The money obtained from growing and selling cannabis is often used to fund serious and organised crime.



More cannabis plants found inside two properties in Somerset Road, Doncaster
More cannabis plants found inside two properties in Somerset Road, Doncaster

“These warrants today are an example of the intelligence gathering work that is going on continuously to identify properties being used in this way.

“Each piece of information we receive helps to build a bigger picture, to ensure that our enforcement action is successful.

“I would urge those who have concerns to continue reporting via 101 or anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers.”

Town centre patrols

Another huge part of the day was getting officers out and about in the town centre.

High visibility patrols were in place to help reassure the public and to tackle issues such as antisocial behaviour, shoplifting and begging.

For PCSO Paula Fox, she is on the beat in Doncaster town centre almost every day.

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She says that the main things people complain about tend to be homelessness, begging and shoplifters.

Paula said: “Every day I see the same faces. They all know me.

“There used to be five PCSOs in Doncaster town centre and now there is just me.

“It’s hard as there is only so much that I can do. I am really glad for operations like this but I just wish that it was everyday.

“I have been a PCSO for 15 years and I am used to getting out there and talking to people.



PC Paula Fox on patrol through Doncaster town centre
PC Paula Fox on patrol through Doncaster town centre

“It’s a very difficult job to do as some people are not happy as a lot of the shops have closed and they come into the town centre and see the issues.

“I do have empathy for the homeless and I talk to them a lot, I wouldn’t like to be in their situation sleeping on the streets.

“It has got better as a few years ago we had a major problem with Spice in the town centre and you don’t see that now.”

One resident Paula spoke to on her patrol and said people were “fed up of the land of the living dead”.

But while out on the beat with officers, one issue became particularly apparent – shoplifting.

The issue is such that police, CCTV operatives and ‘shop detectives’ inside stores are helping to tackle the problem head on.



PCSO Paula Fox
PCSO Paula Fox

Bryony, who became a ‘shop detective’ or security safety assistant, back in June says the problem of shoplifting has steadily got worse since the relaxing of Covid rules.

At the Marks and Spencer store in Baxter Gate, Bryony says they have around four major thefts a day at the moment.

“The main issue that we deal with is shoplifting. I only started this role in June,” she said.

“Before that I worked in the women’s department and I started to recognise some of the regular shoplifters, you get to know what they look like.

“Because the situation has got so bad they asked me if I wanted to take the ‘shop detective’ role as I was already doing it.

“It has 100 percent got worse, especially since the rules have relaxed for Covid.

“Before we could stop people at the door and turn them away but now we can’t.

“This morning around 8.30am we had someone come in and steal a load of meat so we have no steaks left at the minute, it’s really bad.”



PCSO Paula Fox with 'shop detective' Bryony in Doncaster town centre
PCSO Paula Fox with ‘shop detective’ Bryony in Doncaster town centre

As part of Operation Duxford officers have been out all day engaging with the public and conducting high visibility patrols.

It will continue into Wednesday evening and will see more officers on the streets.

Neighbourhoods Chief Inspector Jayne Forrest said: “Engaging with the public to provide crime prevention advice and reassurance is an important part of our role.

“If you see any of our teams out and about, please come and have a chat with us.”

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Written by: Rother Radio News


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today15/09/2021