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 Praise for regional specialist operations unit


​SENIOR policing figures from across the North East have praised the dedicated work of officers based in the region’s specialist operations unit for their hard work in tackling serious and organised crime.

Earlier this year the North East Specialist Operations Unit (NERSOU), renewed their pledge to tackle serious and organised crime alongside Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland Police.

Known as Operation Sentinel, the defiant stance sees all those involved working together to topple the sophisticated gangs responsible for carrying out complex offences such as human trafficking and modern day slavery, cybercrime and large-scale drug supply – and protecting communities from their illicit activities.

This month (May), NERSOU released new data showing that between January and April this year, they had made 79 arrests, safeguarded 46 adults and 15 children and secured 39 convictions totalling prison sentences of more than 187 years.

One of the team’s most significant victories came when drugs kingpin Leslie Moulden, 59, of Dilston Grange, Wallsend, was jailed for 16 years for his role in a £2.7million drugs conspiracy after evading capture for 14 months. His associates had already been jailed for 38 years.

Head of NERSOU, Detective Chief Superintendent Alastair Simpson said: “We are proud to work alongside Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland in the fight against these poisonous and dangerous criminal groups, whose actions can have devastating consequences for our communities.

“We know that these groups can operate on a national and international scale and can often use sophisticated and high-tech methods to carry out their illicit activities.

“Thanks to funding from our Police and Crime Commissioners, NERSOU is able to employ highly-skilled officers from across the region to help us support the three forces with their investigations and to carry out our own.
“We are committed to doing everything we can to put offenders before the courts and bringing them to justice.”

A number of complex investigations into drug supply also saw officers seize more than 360kg of Cannabis, cash to the value of £102,780, nine firearms and confiscation orders in excess of £5 million.

A long-running operation into the supply of Class A drugs based in Durham called Op Sidra was one of those which contributed to the high value seizures and was responsible for the jailing of 17 criminals.

Det Chief Supt Simpson added: “I want to thank all the officers involved for their relentless hard work in not only pursuing these dangerous offenders, but for working with members of the public, local businesses and our partners to make sure we protect the communities we serve, prevent individuals from becoming involved in crime in the first instance and offer people the help and support they need to prepare them for every eventuality.”

The unit, which was established in October 2013, provides additional capacity and resilience for the North East and is funded through the three forces of Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland and Police and Crime Commissioners, Dame Vera Baird QC, Ron Hogg and Barry Coppinger.

Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner for County Durham and Darlington, Ron Hogg, speaking on behalf of the three Commissioners said: “I continue to be very impressed with the work of NERSOU. The commitment of the officers is second to none, and has led to these impressive achievements. I look forward to working closely with Alastair Simpson and my PCC colleagues as the unit develops further in the future.”