The North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU), working with North West police forces and partners have made 290 arrests and seized more than 120 kilograms of drugs in 2021.

The NWROCU are responsible for tackling serious and organised crime across the North West region, managing the threat posed from crime types such as firearms supply, county drugs lines, child sexual exploitation, cybercrime and modern-day slavery.

In 2021, investigations by the ROCU resulted in 290 arrests, criminals being jailed for a total of 384 years and approximately 111 kilograms of class A drugs, 15 kilograms of class B drugs and 47 firearms have been removed from the streets.

The Regional Economic Crime Unit have confiscated more than £4.7million from criminals or forfeited under civil powers as they continue to maximise their use of POCA legislation.

Victims have also had more than £150,000 returned to them in compensation.

Throughout 2021, the County Lines Team have assisted six North West forces on 65 investigations, helping to protect vulnerable adults and children from being exploited by drugs gangs.

Other highlights of the year include:

  • 195 people arrested for child sex offences which led to the safeguarding of more than 170 children
  • More than 200 tonnes of counterfeit goods have been seized by our Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU)
  •  More than 1900 people educated about how to stay safe online
  • More than 4000 people educated about the 'Cyber Choices' programme designed to help people make informed choices and to use their cyber skills in a legal way
  • 230 adults and young people safeguarded from being exploited by criminals.

Assistant Chief Constable Chris Green from the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit, said: “It’s been another incredibly successful year for the North West ROCU in our fight against serious and organised crime across the region.

“Our officers use a range of specialist tactics and work hand in glove alongside each of the six North West police forces, NCA and partner agencies to disrupt dangerous offenders operating across Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside and North Wales.

“Despite the various ongoing challenges of the global pandemic we have continued to tackle and take down the most serious, hardened and organised criminals who pose the most serious threat to our communities, thereby making those communities safer.

“With the support of the vast majority of those communities and thanks to the hard work of our officers and officers within the North West police forces and partner agencies, a large number of prolific criminals are behind bars and we’ve taken significant quantities of drugs and illegal firearms off the streets.

“We continue to work with our partners in our response to Operation Venetic: an international operation targeting criminals who used a mobile encryption service, commonly referred to as Encrochat, in an attempt to evade detection.

"Across the UK, 2631 people have been arrested and more than 5.64kg of class A drugs, 8,789kg of cannabis and 165 firearms have been seized as part of the operation so far.

"Last year, officers from the NWROCU put 18 of these criminals behind bars for more than 226 years as part of the ongoing investigation.

"We continue to work together with our partners to interpret intelligence and identify opportunities to take enforcement action and also to safeguard and mitigate risks of serious violence.

“Here at the ROCU, we’re looking forward to continuing our mission to target those causing the highest harm and to protect the communities within the North West from serious and organised crime.”