More than £68,000 pounds of cash has been taken from suspected criminals and £6.5 million worth of assets have been referred for seizure in one of the largest operations ever undertaken by Lothian and Borders Police.
A total of £21,190 worth of drugs and £13,000 worth of counterfeit goods were also seized during ‘Operation Opulent’, the enforcement phase of the ‘Made From Crime?’ Campaign which aims to target those making cash illegally through crime.
For three days last week, across the Lothian and Borders Police Force area, action was taken against those allegedly living on the proceeds of crime.
Much of the activity has been as a direct result of intelligence and information which has been provided by the public since the launch of the “Made from Crime?” Campaign.
In the Borders six houses were raided and as a result drugs worth £3,170 were seized along with counterfeit or stolen goods valued at £13,000, £4,058 in cash and a Transit van. Road checks also results in a total of 34 vehicle offences.
At the launch of the campaign in August, Assistant Chief Constable Iain Livingstone urged people to make use of anonymous reporting to the independent charity Crimestoppers, either via telephone or through an innovative social media campaign.
Lothian and Borders Police used targeted facebook advertising to link to the anonymous reporting site and that, combined with the telephone number, generated significant amounts of intelligence. In the first month since the launch, Crimestoppers reported a 17 per cent rise in all calls for the Lothian and Borders area to the charity.
All of this intelligence was gathered and analysed by officers, before last week’s enforcement action.
Over 280 police officers and staff have been involved in the 48 hours of action, with 25 addresses targeted and 44 people charged.
Other activity included visiting metal dealers, enforcing warrants, road checks on main arterial routes, and working with partners including local authorities, British Transport Police, and The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA).
Detective Superintendent David Gordon, Head of Lothian and Borders Police’s Serious Organised Crime Unit said: “This campaign was deliberately designed to be ambitious and tenacious and target criminals who believed they could live lavish lifestyles from the proceeds of crime.
“The response we had from local communities throughout the intelligence gathering phase was fantastic, and showed that they were not prepared to tolerate criminality in their area.
“The months of planning for the enforcement phase have paid off throughout the past few days, and we are delighted with the results.
“We will work with our partners in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to ensure those arrested in connection with the operation are faced with the full force of the law, and we will also work with the Scottish Government to ensure the money we have seized can be put back into communities.
“This is not the end of our activity and I would appeal to people to continue to come forward with this vital intelligence so that we can actively pursue those living beyond their means. We will not stand for criminality in our communities throughout Lothian and Borders.”
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: “Every arrest or seizure made by the police is another step towards ridding organised crime from our society and I welcome the progress that has been made by Lothian and Borders Police since the launch of this campaign. I thank every member of the public whose information has helped bring those making a comfortable living from crime to justice. As we have seen, information can be given confidentially which can result in arrests. It underlines that we all have a part to play as individuals in making our communities safer.
“Passing on information on illegal activities in your area to the police allows them to continue doing an excellent job in cracking down on those who bring misery upon our streets.”
Kate Jackson, National Manager for Crimestoppers Scotland, said “It is clear from this campaign that the public are keen to make a difference in their area by reporting criminals and wrongdoing and I would urge anyone with information to report it anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. We do not take your name or record your call but we are interested in what you can tell us.”