Organised Crime Unit for South West launches new website

The website for Zephyr – the South West’s regional organised crime unit – is being re-launched, making it more dynamic and user-friendly.

The launch coincides with the fourth birthday of the South West’s crime-busting unit.

Zephyr has made a huge impact since its launch in the autumn of 2010. Organised criminals have received jail sentences totalling around 500 years; more than £9m worth of drugs and associated items have been seized; confiscation orders totalling £7.8m issued by the courts; and more than £500,000 cash seized.

So far more than 500 offenders have been jailed for a total of 481 years as a result of work of Zephyr staff, who are drawn from Wiltshire, Devon and Cornwall, Gloucestershire, Dorset and Avon and Somerset forces.

It is no wonder that Zephyr investigators have become a real thorn in the side of organised career criminals across the south west.

The new website features a short history of Zephyr and how it was launched and how officers and staff in five forces work together to target the region’s serious and organised crime groups.

Various operations are featured on the website which includes photos taken at the time.

There is a latest news section, links to other agencies such as Crimestoppers, the National Crime Agency, HM Revenue and Customs, UK Border Force, and Gain (the Government Agency Intelligence Network), with whom Zephyr work closely.

Advice on on-line safety and staying “cyber smart” are other items featured.

Since Zephyr was launched there has been a catalogue of successes over its relatively short four year life. The team have:

  • been granted 72 confiscation orders, totalling £7.8m.
  • seized £529,000 cash under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
  • seized 60.5kgs of class A drugs (with a street value of £3.2m)
  • seized 130.5kg of cutting agent (capable of being cut into a 170kg’s of Class A drugs approximate street value £6 million)
  • seized just short of 3000 cannabis plants (approximate street value of £60,000)
  • seized 30,000 MDMA tablets (with an approximate street value of £150,000)
  • seized five Section One firearms (which are firearms prohibited by law such as hand guns and rifles) and ammunition

Head of Zephyr, Detective Superintendent Damian Kearney said: “When Zephyr was set up in September 2010, it was with the direct intention of destroying, dismantling and disrupting serious and organised crime groups across the south west of England, in order to reassure the public”.

“During the past 48 months we have become a real thorn in the side of those involved in organised crime in the region. Our proactive action has led to the disruption of 32 organised crime groups. Members of many of those groups are now serving time behind bars, paying the price of their crimes”.

“Organised crime comes in many guises. Recently Zephyr has been targeting criminals operating from London and Scotland who have been involved in defrauding elderly and vulnerable people within the South West”.

“The re-launch of our website chronicles some of our successes but also shows the wide-range of work we are undertaking with our partner agencies to undermine and destroy organised crime in the south west”.

“As you will see on the website, we not only put career criminals behind bars but we seize the results of their crimes and ensure where possible it is paid back to victims and the offenders are not allowed to reap the benefits of their illegal actions”.

“We are committed to undermining and destroying the ambitions of organised crime groups and making the south west a safer place to live. There is no hiding place for those intending to follow a life dedicated to crime,” declared Detective Superintendent Kearney.

Source:: Wiltshire Police News

Police ask public to 'look after neighbours' after recent burglaries in Chippenham and Corsham

Wiltshire Police are asking the public to be extra vigilant during the Christmas period, looking out for their elderly and more vulnerable neighbours following two burglaries in Chippenham and Corsham.

During the evening of Tuesday 2 December an elderly woman was the victim of an attempted burglary in Allington Way, Chippenham. The following day another attempted burglary took place during the early hours of Wednesday 3 December in Kings Avenue, Corsham. Police are currently linking the two crimes.

The first incident occurred at approximately 22:00hrs when an elderly woman, aged 88, heard what she thought were bangs from fireworks outside her property in Allington Way. She alerted her neighbour and together they identified extensive damage to the rear windows and back door of her house. No suspects were seen and it is believed nothing was stolen.

The second incident occurred the following day at around 00:45 hrs at Kings Avenue, Corsham when an elderly man, aged 88, was woken by a man in his bedroom. The intruder threatened him, demanding to know where his money was. The victim told him he had no money and the male left. The victim’s rear kitchen window had been broken and small quantity of cash was taken.

The suspect is described as a white male, around 5’7 tall, early 20’s, quite slim with a clean shaven face. The male was wearing all dark clothing, a black coat with the zip up and his face partially covered, also wearing a woollen hat and spoke with a local accent.

Detective Constable Anthony King from Central CID said:

“I would urge residents with elderly neighbours to be extra vigilant during the Christmas period and to report suspicious behaviour to the police. It may be that this offender is targeting elderly people and may have visited previously as a bogus caller.

News of these crimes can be very frightening to our elderly community but with the right preventative action and support from neighbours and family, we can prevent this happening.

We all can be the best of neighbours and help any elderly or vulnerable people in our community to secure their premises at night and not to open their doors unless they are expecting a visitor. Remind your relatives and friends not to let strangers into their properties.

If anyone has information about the suspect in these burglaries I would urge them to come forward and we are keen to bring this offender to justice.”

By adhering to the following advice, you can reduce your chances of becoming a victim of burglary or bogus callers:

• Always keep your door shut and locked.
• If someone comes to your door and you aren’t expecting a caller it is important that you check who it is by using a spy-hole or look through a window. Do not open the door to anyone you don’t know or are not expecting.
• Official visitors will always arrange an appointment with you beforehand – if no appointment has been made, don’t open the door.
• Do not keep large amounts of cash at home – it is much safer in a bank or building society.
• Always keep purses and wallets hidden away, out of sight.
• Never keep pin numbers with credit or debit cards.
• Never agree to have work carried out by someone who is just passing, or believe such people when they claim that repairs need to be made. If you think work might need to be done get quotes from three companies and ask friends and neighbours for recommendations.
• If you see anything suspicious or think a bogus caller may have called at your door, report it to police immediately by calling 999.

The Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust (WBVT) will visit the elderly victims of these crimes. Bobby Van provides a home security service for elderly, vulnerable and disadvantaged people throughout Wiltshire. The charity operates two Bobby vans that provide mobile workshops for Bobby operators. For more information please go to:

If you have any information that would assist police with the investigation please call 101 and ask to speak to DC Anthony King at Melksham Police Station on 744 31837. Alternatively, if you wish to remain anonymous please call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Source:: Wiltshire Police News