Concerned about drugs where you live? Worried about your own drug use? Living in fear or debt because of drugs?Fortress is the campaign to reduce the harm of drug-related violence in communities across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Key to its success is the work we’re doing to bring together the police with our partners and voluntary groups to work towards common goals.

Together, we aim to find long term solutions to restricting the supply of drugs, reducing demand for them and rebuilding communities.

So while we’re making the two counties a hostile place for criminals who come here and cause harm, we’re also identifying people made vulnerable to crime through their own drug use, supporting them towards a brighter future and helping to bring communities closer together to feel safer, free from the fear of crime.

Operation Fortress was originally launched in Southampton in May 2012 to run for two years. In February 2014, the Police and Crime Commissioner announced further funding to run the dedicated Fortress police team for another year and to help ensure the campaign and its messages continue to be delivered in Southampton and across the force area.

All police teams across the two counties that work towards the campaign's aims are involved with Fortress and you can expect to see the shield coming to a neighbourhood near you.

Talk to us on Twitter @HantsPolice #OpFortress

What we're doing

 

Fortress has developed an education package to take into schools and colleges that spells out the human cost of using legal and illegal drugs. Supporting us is mum Jenny Chase (pictured front right) who talks to young people about the emotional and financial impact of drugs on her family and supporting a loved-one through rehabilitation.

 

Close work between police and partners during Operation Fortress helped identify 38 people vulnerable to criminal exploitation through their own drug use and then provide support for them as an alternative, where appropriate, to prosecution. That work leaves police freer to focus attention and resources on criminals posing a greater risk of harm to communities while helping to reduce reoffending by those on the periphery of crime.

 

The number of people accessing support from Southampton Drug and Alcohol Action Team grew steadily during 2013, especially among those who use drugs other than heroin. At the same time, the team also saw a rise in the number of people successful completing their treatment. The increases were attributed to growing confidence in the services and service users being encouraged to stay on through their contact with Operation Fortress. 

 

We're working to keep the Fortress shield a visible, reassuring presence in our communities and the Fortress van has helped do just that. It has been used in and around Southampton at local events, on reassurance patrols and in partnership with the council on Crime Reduction and Environment Days. Take a look at the Fortress Facebook gallery.   

 

Police neighbourhood teams have being joining up with their local authority counterparts in community safety to run Crime Reduction and Environment Days in local neighbourhoods. Days like this can target the problems of anti-social behaviour and litter linked to drugs and gives residents the opportunity to raise any concerns they may have.

 

Our message to criminals coming here to deal drugs and make life a misery to others is that you’re not welcome and you can expect a rude awakening! We regularly carry out warrants at homes and addresses we suspect are linked to the supply of drugs or drug-related violence. After each warrant, our neighbourhood teams have delivered leaflets like the one pictured, which let people know what we're doing and encourage them to come forward with information.

Between May 2012 and April 2014, the dedicated Operation Fortress team arrested 381 suspects and saw 76 people convicted for drug-related crimes. Those who were jailed were put behind bars for a total of 169 years including 11 years for a man convicted of possessing a firearm and being concerned in the supply of a class A drug. More than £150,000 in assets was seized from criminals through the Proceeds of Crime Act and around £245,000 worth of drugs taken off the streets.