“Dorset doesn’t have a gang culture”: police chief warn gangs the force is not a ‘pushover’

Bournemouth Echo: HARD TALKING: Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Cooper HARD TALKING: Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Cooper

TWO years ago, the shocking murder of a man shot dead in the street in Boscombe highlighted the unseen drugs war on our streets.

But that wasn’t the end of drug gangs operating in our county and now, in a rare and exclusive interview with the Bournemouth Echo, Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Cooper – who is Dorset Police’s Head of Crime and Criminal Justice Commander – outlines today’s gang issues in the county.

He states that despite the fact there have been two gang-related murders in the last six years, Dorset ‘does not have a gang culture’.

It comes just months after a Met officer warned that gangs from London are increasingly ‘spreading their wings’ to seek markets for drugs in other areas of the country.

The gang culture operating primarily in Bournemouth was exposed on July 25, 2012, when 21-year-old Londoner Reece James, was murdered on Roumelia Lane in Boscombe in what was thought to be a ‘planned hit’.

At the time, Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood likened the fatal shooting to a ‘scene from The Wire’.

He spoke publicly about his fears that Somali drug gangs were targeting Bournemouth because they saw it as a ‘soft touch’ compared to larger cities.

However, Det Chief Supt Cooper said that is not the case and warned: “I have a very strong message for gangs, and I don’t say this lightly as we have proven success.

“If you come to Dorset and think that the police will be a bit of a pushover you will be shocked and surprised.

“I can confidently say we know everyone who is involved in it and we very quickly get to those who come into the area and try to establish new markets and will deal with them very robustly and intently.

“We don’t give up.”

Contrary to public perception, ‘organised crime is throughout Dorset but focused in the conurbation of Bournemouth and Poole,’ he explains.

Speaking about the Roumelia Lane murder, Mr Cooper said: “It was a really intense investigation for us.

“It was months of work at a very high level, I invested a huge amount of resources – we put everything into it.”

Following the murder, teams of police officers tackled drug dealing and misuse as part of Operation Crackdown which saw officers carry out more than 175 drug raids in the following 12 months.

“Dorset doesn’t have a gang culture, we don’t have local residents and individuals that form a gang to cause terror or have local control of the drugs market.”

“That is not how it works in Dorset,” he adds.

He explained that gangs typically from large cities look for an opportunity to infiltrate established on-street and off-street drugs markets, then come down to Dorset, intimidate and take over.

“It can be a quick changeover,” he said.

“Intelligence shows a new group has moved in, I don’t see numerous groups coming in to change over. It happens very rarely.

“There is a vast amount of money involved so if they can come in and take over from an established drugs market and, let’s be honest, we do have some – albeit on a slightly smaller scale – in Boscombe,” he explains.

He dismissed the problem of on-street prostitution in Boscombe as related to the gangs and said they have found it is purely a drugs-related business.

And that drugs business is not just for the weekend trade, it is about establishing yourself.

He said: “We have an affluent night-time economy which is associated to the drugs trade and the use of cocaine.

“You may see individuals coming to a hotel for the weekend to maximise profits, but it’s about establishing yourself.

“You can’t just arrive with a load of drugs in your pocket and expect to sell it. It’s infiltrating an established market, taking over the phones so people know who to ring.”

He added: “We don’t have big gangs, we don’t get 30 people come down on a bus and take over the drugs market. It will be one or two individuals and there might be some rotation.”

His Major Crime Team, made up of senior detectives, work with their intelligence networks, safer neighbourhood teams and communities to find out the daily goings-on of such gangs.

Mr Cooper said that the proactive police activity in Boscombe is always intense and that it is not just in response to serious events.

He said: “I am confident that local policing is tackling these individuals, stopping them, talking to them, turning them over and trying to disrupt the criminal activity consistently every day – trying to make it as difficult as we possibly can.”

In some cases, specialised officers, undercover resources and firearms officers will be deployed if the threat level is raised.

He compared James’s murder to the earlier murder of Luke Campbell in 2008 as another drug gang-related death.

“Again it was widely publicised that there were offenders from Dorset who came to Bournemouth. It was the same story where gangs tried to infiltrate what they believed was an established drugs market, these people go southwards and northwards and look into towns all over. It is a very organised business.”

In both murder cases new technology, CCTV, ANPR was a very critical element to the enquiry.

He said Dorset Police’s response to major crime is “the best it’s ever been” and that various crime units, from serious and organised crime to a paedophile investigation team are all experienced and good at their jobs.

In terms of cutbacks he said: “Money has been difficult but it hasn’t affected policing.”

Firearms not widespread

After years of experience in Dorset Police catching serious criminals, Mark Cooper said: “We are better at identifying organised crime.

“I can’t say there is more or less of it now as we don’t know.

“I can say we are now better at identifying those who are well organised and committing that high-level criminality.

“You’re not talking about criminals who will communicate their activity and be very open, you’re talking about sophisticated, well-organised individuals that keep themselves under the radar, don’t draw attention to themselves and are very considered.”

Despite the clear threat of gangs operating on our streets Mr Cooper said that he does not think that gangs routinely carry guns in Dorset.

He said: “Now we’ve had a shooting in Boscombe, so to say that doesn’t exist is not right, but they are individuals that have come down with firearms, committed the deed and then gone. But are people routinely carrying firearms in Dorset? No.”

Comments (18)

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1:30pm Tue 3 Jun 14

Huey says...

So long as they are just killing each other that is ok
So long as they are just killing each other that is ok Huey
  • Score: -19

2:36pm Tue 3 Jun 14

BmthNewshound says...

DCS Cooper - like the three wise monkeys all rolled into one - see no evil. speak no evil, hear no evil. By pretending that a problem doesn't exist it'll simply go away.
DCS Cooper - like the three wise monkeys all rolled into one - see no evil. speak no evil, hear no evil. By pretending that a problem doesn't exist it'll simply go away. BmthNewshound
  • Score: -7

3:30pm Tue 3 Jun 14

vinmaster says...

Course of fooking course, I wasn't asking I was telling LOL
Course of fooking course, I wasn't asking I was telling LOL vinmaster
  • Score: -10

3:46pm Tue 3 Jun 14

BournemouthMum says...

So where are people getting their drugs from then?
So where are people getting their drugs from then? BournemouthMum
  • Score: -3

4:08pm Tue 3 Jun 14

politicaltrainspotter says...

Well he needs to get out of the office a bit more and see life fro street level..Back in 2001,Boscombe had an influx of two north London gangs.The Wood Green Boys and the Tottenham Boys.Then we see the Church Road Soldiers.Perhaps he hasn't seen the transparent link between north London and Boscombe.

Lets not forget the operational drug gang called the 'A Team' which is very prominent in the area today
Well he needs to get out of the office a bit more and see life fro street level..Back in 2001,Boscombe had an influx of two north London gangs.The Wood Green Boys and the Tottenham Boys.Then we see the Church Road Soldiers.Perhaps he hasn't seen the transparent link between north London and Boscombe. Lets not forget the operational drug gang called the 'A Team' which is very prominent in the area today politicaltrainspotter
  • Score: 6

6:38pm Tue 3 Jun 14

Boscomite says...

Mr Cooper said that the proactive police activity in Boscombe is always intense and that it is not just in response to serious events.

During the day, yes there is a visible police presence. But they are needed at night, and not just driving through with their sirens blaring.
Mr Cooper said that the proactive police activity in Boscombe is always intense and that it is not just in response to serious events. During the day, yes there is a visible police presence. But they are needed at night, and not just driving through with their sirens blaring. Boscomite
  • Score: 1

7:58pm Tue 3 Jun 14

cromwell9 says...

I would build a 15ft brick wall around Bournemouth,and search every dwelling inch by inch,Then we will se if there is a gang problem in Dorset,
Some years ago ,two police officers told me that the YARDYS were operating out of Branksome Rail Stn Car park.,They had moved there from Boscombe.
after being driven out ,by the Police.
So unless you get rid of these people .They will simply move to another place.
The Police know where they live ,and hang out .So just sort it out.Period.
Dorset will be dragged into the mire ,sooner or later.as people move down from the big citys,The DRUGS and CRIME will follow.END OF.
I would build a 15ft brick wall around Bournemouth,and search every dwelling inch by inch,Then we will se if there is a gang problem in Dorset, Some years ago ,two police officers told me that the YARDYS were operating out of Branksome Rail Stn Car park.,They had moved there from Boscombe. after being driven out ,by the Police. So unless you get rid of these people .They will simply move to another place. The Police know where they live ,and hang out .So just sort it out.Period. Dorset will be dragged into the mire ,sooner or later.as people move down from the big citys,The DRUGS and CRIME will follow.END OF. cromwell9
  • Score: 3

8:53pm Tue 3 Jun 14

rozmister says...

cromwell9 wrote:
I would build a 15ft brick wall around Bournemouth,and search every dwelling inch by inch,Then we will se if there is a gang problem in Dorset,
Some years ago ,two police officers told me that the YARDYS were operating out of Branksome Rail Stn Car park.,They had moved there from Boscombe.
after being driven out ,by the Police.
So unless you get rid of these people .They will simply move to another place.
The Police know where they live ,and hang out .So just sort it out.Period.
Dorset will be dragged into the mire ,sooner or later.as people move down from the big citys,The DRUGS and CRIME will follow.END OF.
People have said yardies are operating in Bournemouth for years but not one has ever been caught and prosecuted and if you speak to the people on the street who would know they've never met a yardie who's operating down here. If you had yardies in your back garden you'd know, they don't tinker about on the edge hiding in Branksome they take over the entire underworld, by violence if necessary, killing anyone who stands in their way. It's an urban myth perpetuated by people with no knowledge of gang culture and that includes police officers with overactive imaginations!

Bournemouth Mum - I've met a fair few drug dealers in Boscombe when drinking in the local pubs and they've generally been people who are permanently settled in this area and aren't gang affiliated. I'd guess people are buying their drugs from them?
[quote][p][bold]cromwell9[/bold] wrote: I would build a 15ft brick wall around Bournemouth,and search every dwelling inch by inch,Then we will se if there is a gang problem in Dorset, Some years ago ,two police officers told me that the YARDYS were operating out of Branksome Rail Stn Car park.,They had moved there from Boscombe. after being driven out ,by the Police. So unless you get rid of these people .They will simply move to another place. The Police know where they live ,and hang out .So just sort it out.Period. Dorset will be dragged into the mire ,sooner or later.as people move down from the big citys,The DRUGS and CRIME will follow.END OF.[/p][/quote]People have said yardies are operating in Bournemouth for years but not one has ever been caught and prosecuted and if you speak to the people on the street who would know they've never met a yardie who's operating down here. If you had yardies in your back garden you'd know, they don't tinker about on the edge hiding in Branksome they take over the entire underworld, by violence if necessary, killing anyone who stands in their way. It's an urban myth perpetuated by people with no knowledge of gang culture and that includes police officers with overactive imaginations! Bournemouth Mum - I've met a fair few drug dealers in Boscombe when drinking in the local pubs and they've generally been people who are permanently settled in this area and aren't gang affiliated. I'd guess people are buying their drugs from them? rozmister
  • Score: 5

11:05pm Tue 3 Jun 14

BIGTONE says...

I think his statements will come back to haunt him.

2014.....the control is not with the Police or local authority.
I think his statements will come back to haunt him. 2014.....the control is not with the Police or local authority. BIGTONE
  • Score: 0

11:32pm Tue 3 Jun 14

DorsetKnobber says...

vinmaster wrote:
Course of fooking course, I wasn't asking I was telling LOL
You stop me when I'm walking again boy, and I'll cut off your fooking jacobs
[quote][p][bold]vinmaster[/bold] wrote: Course of fooking course, I wasn't asking I was telling LOL[/p][/quote]You stop me when I'm walking again boy, and I'll cut off your fooking jacobs DorsetKnobber
  • Score: -2

4:51am Wed 4 Jun 14

Not A Local says...

If you think there's gang culture or gangs operating in Bournemouth or Poole then I'm sorry but you don't know what gang culture is!! There are some small time dealers who live here, but there are certainly no gangs running anything.

Bournemouth - a small seaside town with big city delusions
If you think there's gang culture or gangs operating in Bournemouth or Poole then I'm sorry but you don't know what gang culture is!! There are some small time dealers who live here, but there are certainly no gangs running anything. Bournemouth - a small seaside town with big city delusions Not A Local
  • Score: 1

10:57am Wed 4 Jun 14

abidah says...

Politicaltrainspotte
r got it spot on.Not a Local did not. Unfortunately the criminal gangs are local related and some born-and-bred. The newest criminal gang movements to control illicit trade are encouraging inasmuch as the police have intelligence on them at a high level.I am cautiously optimistic.The Tottenham/Hackney/Ed
monton and Kent connections are long running and well informed.
Politicaltrainspotte r got it spot on.Not a Local did not. Unfortunately the criminal gangs are local related and some born-and-bred. The newest criminal gang movements to control illicit trade are encouraging inasmuch as the police have intelligence on them at a high level.I am cautiously optimistic.The Tottenham/Hackney/Ed monton and Kent connections are long running and well informed. abidah
  • Score: 0

11:46am Wed 4 Jun 14

R1200RT says...

Bournemouth......a well known drug town with a terrible tourist problem
Bournemouth......a well known drug town with a terrible tourist problem R1200RT
  • Score: 1

12:11pm Wed 4 Jun 14

speedy231278 says...

Unfortunately, some of the gang culture happens to reside in the Town Hall.
Unfortunately, some of the gang culture happens to reside in the Town Hall. speedy231278
  • Score: 1

1:12pm Wed 4 Jun 14

stevobath says...

Not A Local wrote:
If you think there's gang culture or gangs operating in Bournemouth or Poole then I'm sorry but you don't know what gang culture is!! There are some small time dealers who live here, but there are certainly no gangs running anything.

Bournemouth - a small seaside town with big city delusions
While I agree about the gang thing, I'd argue about the size.

Bournemouth is one of the biggest seaside towns in the UK with a population of nearly 190,000, which is bigger than a lot of cities & 96th most populous borough out of 326, far from small.

I do always say though 'Bournemouth bigger than a lot of cities but populated by people with a small village mentality' at least if you take ECHO posters as representative.... :)
[quote][p][bold]Not A Local[/bold] wrote: If you think there's gang culture or gangs operating in Bournemouth or Poole then I'm sorry but you don't know what gang culture is!! There are some small time dealers who live here, but there are certainly no gangs running anything. Bournemouth - a small seaside town with big city delusions[/p][/quote]While I agree about the gang thing, I'd argue about the size. Bournemouth is one of the biggest seaside towns in the UK with a population of nearly 190,000, which is bigger than a lot of cities & 96th most populous borough out of 326, far from small. I do always say though 'Bournemouth bigger than a lot of cities but populated by people with a small village mentality' at least if you take ECHO posters as representative.... :) stevobath
  • Score: -1

1:58pm Wed 4 Jun 14

cromwell9 says...

stevobath wrote:
Not A Local wrote:
If you think there's gang culture or gangs operating in Bournemouth or Poole then I'm sorry but you don't know what gang culture is!! There are some small time dealers who live here, but there are certainly no gangs running anything.

Bournemouth - a small seaside town with big city delusions
While I agree about the gang thing, I'd argue about the size.

Bournemouth is one of the biggest seaside towns in the UK with a population of nearly 190,000, which is bigger than a lot of cities & 96th most populous borough out of 326, far from small.

I do always say though 'Bournemouth bigger than a lot of cities but populated by people with a small village mentality' at least if you take ECHO posters as representative.... :)
Bournemouth is rapidly becoming London by the sea.
When you add up the population of BMTH ,you have to take in consideration the adjoing areas POOLE/ CHRISTCHURCH etc Then the total population goes up to the size of BRISTOL,The whole area is a city all but name,And still growing,
[quote][p][bold]stevobath[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Not A Local[/bold] wrote: If you think there's gang culture or gangs operating in Bournemouth or Poole then I'm sorry but you don't know what gang culture is!! There are some small time dealers who live here, but there are certainly no gangs running anything. Bournemouth - a small seaside town with big city delusions[/p][/quote]While I agree about the gang thing, I'd argue about the size. Bournemouth is one of the biggest seaside towns in the UK with a population of nearly 190,000, which is bigger than a lot of cities & 96th most populous borough out of 326, far from small. I do always say though 'Bournemouth bigger than a lot of cities but populated by people with a small village mentality' at least if you take ECHO posters as representative.... :)[/p][/quote]Bournemouth is rapidly becoming London by the sea. When you add up the population of BMTH ,you have to take in consideration the adjoing areas POOLE/ CHRISTCHURCH etc Then the total population goes up to the size of BRISTOL,The whole area is a city all but name,And still growing, cromwell9
  • Score: 0

9:29pm Thu 5 Jun 14

stevobath says...

cromwell9 wrote:
stevobath wrote:
Not A Local wrote:
If you think there's gang culture or gangs operating in Bournemouth or Poole then I'm sorry but you don't know what gang culture is!! There are some small time dealers who live here, but there are certainly no gangs running anything.

Bournemouth - a small seaside town with big city delusions
While I agree about the gang thing, I'd argue about the size.

Bournemouth is one of the biggest seaside towns in the UK with a population of nearly 190,000, which is bigger than a lot of cities & 96th most populous borough out of 326, far from small.

I do always say though 'Bournemouth bigger than a lot of cities but populated by people with a small village mentality' at least if you take ECHO posters as representative.... :)
Bournemouth is rapidly becoming London by the sea.
When you add up the population of BMTH ,you have to take in consideration the adjoing areas POOLE/ CHRISTCHURCH etc Then the total population goes up to the size of BRISTOL,The whole area is a city all but name,And still growing,
I didn't want to say that as there are those that get upset when you mention 'The 3 Towns' as an entity.

They don't call B'mouth the 'Little Apple' for nothing!
[quote][p][bold]cromwell9[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]stevobath[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Not A Local[/bold] wrote: If you think there's gang culture or gangs operating in Bournemouth or Poole then I'm sorry but you don't know what gang culture is!! There are some small time dealers who live here, but there are certainly no gangs running anything. Bournemouth - a small seaside town with big city delusions[/p][/quote]While I agree about the gang thing, I'd argue about the size. Bournemouth is one of the biggest seaside towns in the UK with a population of nearly 190,000, which is bigger than a lot of cities & 96th most populous borough out of 326, far from small. I do always say though 'Bournemouth bigger than a lot of cities but populated by people with a small village mentality' at least if you take ECHO posters as representative.... :)[/p][/quote]Bournemouth is rapidly becoming London by the sea. When you add up the population of BMTH ,you have to take in consideration the adjoing areas POOLE/ CHRISTCHURCH etc Then the total population goes up to the size of BRISTOL,The whole area is a city all but name,And still growing,[/p][/quote]I didn't want to say that as there are those that get upset when you mention 'The 3 Towns' as an entity. They don't call B'mouth the 'Little Apple' for nothing! stevobath
  • Score: -1

9:33pm Thu 5 Jun 14

stevobath says...

R1200RT wrote:
Bournemouth......a well known drug town with a terrible tourist problem
You think B'mouth is bad? Come live in Bath for a while.

Far worse IMO, especially with Bristol only 1/2 hour away.

Bath...well known drug town with a terrible tourist problem. Maybe 'Twin' the two?
[quote][p][bold]R1200RT[/bold] wrote: Bournemouth......a well known drug town with a terrible tourist problem[/p][/quote]You think B'mouth is bad? Come live in Bath for a while. Far worse IMO, especially with Bristol only 1/2 hour away. Bath...well known drug town with a terrible tourist problem. Maybe 'Twin' the two? stevobath
  • Score: -1

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