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Well done to police teams who seized drugs and put vile rapist behind bars

I’d like to devote this week’s column to thanking a few Devon and Cornwall officers and staff members after some really outstanding work to make us all safer.

Well done to police teams who seized drugs and put vile rapist behind bars

On Tuesday last week officers from the Plymouth’s proactive policing unit and road crime unit stopped a van travelling on the A38 near Ivybridge. In it they found four kilograms of suspected crack cocaine and heroin – with a potential street value of £400,000.

A man in his 40s from Essex was arrested on suspicion of possession of a Class A drugs with intent to supply. Two days later officers stopped a VW car in the Brixham area, searched it and found about £60,000 in cash along with mobile phones. They arrested a man in his 20s from Gateshead and a man in his 30s from Plymouth on suspicion of money laundering.

In recent months and years many such seizures have been made here in Devon and Cornwall. Often drugs and money are linked to cocaine and heroin dealers who originate from outside our force area but who think there is easy money to be made here. Sometimes they will exploit disaffected young people or those with learning disabilities to build their profit-making empires.

This great work by the force means fewer dangerous drugs in our communities and sends a clear message to those who bring drugs to Devon and Cornwall that their trade will not be tolerated. We have been working in partnership with other forces across the South West on Operation Scorpion this year, and much more activity of this type, targeting users as well as dealers, will be happening in the next few weeks. Those involved in drug dealing and taking – you have been warned.

The next thank you must go to the team who worked on a truly horrific case in which a teenage girl was plied with alcohol and raped by a 39-year-old man. Plymouth Crown Court was told that Daniel Mortimer had targeted her because she was vulnerable and then told her he had a weapon to prevent her leaving his lodgings. When the assault took place she was so inebriated that the court was told she may as well have been unconscious. The morning after the attack she persuaded him to go outside for a cigarette and then ‘ran for her life’.

Such cases are challenging to investigate and it has been widely reported that conviction rates for rape are not as high as we would like them to be. Devon and Cornwall Police is working on a series of measures to make convictions for sexual offences more likely and to focus on providing more support for victims.

Working on this case and supporting the victim through the criminal justice system cannot have been easy for those involved, and I hope they take a huge amount of satisfaction from the 20-year jail term that was handed to Mortimer last week. Their work, and the courage of the girl who testified against him, have kept other women in our community safer. We should all be grateful that women and girls like this stand up against this violence even though it is often delaying their ability to move on with their lives and recover. 

These cases are significant, but drugs are seized and sex offenders convicted every week across Devon and Cornwall. Each case is a police success story, yet a survey by the Policy Exchange think tank found in August that the public were almost twice as likely to agree than disagree with the statement that "the police are more interested in being woke than solving crimes".

I speak to frontline officers, staff, volunteers and new recruits every week, and that perception is not borne out by the people I meet. In the vast majority of cases people join the police to serve their communities and to take those who threaten our safety off the streets, It’s the work they signed up to do, and they get the most satisfaction from. We must offer them the support and resources they need to focus on catching offenders and relieved their successes.

Anyone with information about the use or supply or drugs in their communities should report it via the force website or by calling 101 in a non emergency or 999 if a crime is in progress. 

You can pass information via the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously, on 0800 555 111 or via their online form at:

Information and advice for victims of sexual offences is available 24/7 via the charity Victim Support, with dedicated and specialist services commissioned by me in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Call 08 08 16 89 111 or webchat at Offences do not have to be reported to police for support services to be made available.