I am PC 1365 Gareth Tanner and I work in the Complex Case Team from Histon Police Station covering the South Cambridgeshire area.
In mid 2013 I was involved in a drugs warrant at a house in my area.
The process of this started some time ago with information from members of the public. This case in particular demonstrates how valuable it is for police and the public to communicate with each other and for members of the public to let police know of anything, no matter how small or unlikely it may seem; if they think something is a bit suspicious. We are always interested to know about suspicious activity because it is often a small piece that fits into a larger puzzle.
We were informed by several members of the public that there was suspicious activity around the address. This covered everything from a strange smell, to the high number of visitors to the address that tended not to stay for very long.
No doubt each of the people who spoke to us about this thought it was trivial or potentially innocent, but as several people were telling us the same or similar things we were able to identify the house as an area of interest.
Thankfully, the public didn’t just contact us once either, we were kept updated with developments at the house which continued to show us that the activity was continuing; this certainly was helpful when it came to going to court to obtain a search warrant.
We were satisfied that there was sufficient information from the public that indicated drug related activity at the house so, I went to Cambridge Magistrates Court armed with the information the public had given us.
At court, I stood in front of the Magistrates under oath and explained the information we had received from the public and justified why I thought it was necessary and lawful to search the house. Thankfully the Magistrates agreed with me, that the information we had was recent, relevant, and strongly indicated drugs activity.
With a wet signature from the Magistrate on the warrant I came back to the police station to arrange police officers to conduct the search, and just one hour after walking out of the court with the warrant, all officers had been fully briefed and we were off.
There were four officers attending including me, two to go to the front door, with my colleague and I round the back in case the occupants tried to escape or throw their drugs out of the back window.
Gaining entry isn’t always like it is on the telly. Yes, sometimes we take the big red key and break people’s doors down, but quite often, as in this case, we just knock and the occupant is generally sensible enough when given the choice to spare their front door by letting us in.
The house was a regular semi-detached property in a nice area and the occupant was a polite young man in his mid-twenties in full time employment in a respectable job; perhaps not where you may expect to find over 8 kilos of cannabis and a bag of cocaine the size of my fist. It turns out these drugs were collectively worth well over £100,000.00
I’ve searched numerous houses and seized many large quantities of drugs in my career but this was the largest amount of ready to sell drugs I had ever seen. It took a van and two police cars to transport the drugs back to the station.
From one day to obtain and conduct a search warrant and seize a huge quantity of drugs, the rest of the investigation took several months of interviews, electronic device analysis, forensic examinations, drug identifications and financial investigation. The arduous task of completing the in depth investigation and complex court paperwork paid off in the end though. The house’s occupant was charged with a number of drug related offences, the information we obtained from his house has led to further arrests of his associates, and a significant disruption to the supply of drugs in South Cambridgeshire.
The offender Aaron Wiltshire (aged 28) of Waddelow Road, Waterbeach was sentenced in Cambridge Crown Court on Friday 16th May to 3 years in prison for producing cannabis and possessing with the intent to supply, both class B and class A substances (cannabis and cocaine).
Naturally, we destroyed all the drugs and equipment.
The smallest piece of information may help form part of a picture of criminal activity. I hope people reading this blog will let police know, anonymously if they like; if they notice something they think is a little strange or suspicious. It might help us have a big impact on crime.
Call your local police on our non-emergency number 101 or speak to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111
PC 1365 Gareth Tanner