AS police raided homes across Burton yesterday, Mail reporters ROB SMYTH and TIM FLETCHER, along with photographers SIMON DEACON and GEOFF MERRYWEATHER, joined officers as they delivered an unwanted early morning wake up call to suspected drug dealers.
Here, Rob Smyth delivers a blow-by-blow of account as he watched one of the raids as it unfolded.
THE blue lights began to flash but the sirens remained silent to allow officers to make a stealthy approach to the target addresses.
A ‘go’ signal was given and the police vehicles, including our media van, increased in speed before grinding to a quick halt outside of a house in Shobnall Street at just after 7am yesterday morning.
Officers jumped out in unison, rushing the door of the terraced property before using a battering ram dubbed the ‘enforcer’ to knock on the door.
After a few hefty blows, the white PVC door quickly gave way and the boys and blue rushed into the property while issuing the early wake up call of ‘Staffordshire Police – this is a raid’.
A male suspect was quickly apprehended and detained in the living room while gloved officers were joined by scenes of crimes officers to start searching the house from top to bottom.
Next through the door was a sniffer dog and his handler who hurried about the scene trying to sniff out some evidence.
As night began to turn to day, neighbours began to spill out onto the street as curtains began to twitch as people’s curiosity began to get the better of them.
As the searches continued, Assistant Chief Constable Jane Sawyers beamed with delight as a result of the apparently successful operation.
She said: “I am very pleased with how it has all gone and it was great to be on the frontline to see the operation in full flow.
“This operation was the result of months of planning after grave concerns were continually raised by members of the public about several issues across the town.
“It seems to have been a great success and we would like to thank everyone who came forward with information.” Watching from afar was the new police and crime commissioner for Staffordshire, Matthew Ellis – taking part in his first major operation since taking up the role last year.
Braving the icy chill, he told the Mail: “It is great to see the force in action and helping to have a massive impact in the local community.” “It is being on operations like this that helps me learn about the force and know what they need to do the best job that they can.” He was interrupted when an officer, cradling his Taser, exited the house to continue searches at the back of the property.
All of a sudden shouts began to emanate from within the house. Officers motioned that the suspect had been formally arrested and he was on his way out.
As he was led out of the front door in handcuffs, dressed in a grey cardigan and grey jogging bottoms, the suspect aimed a volley of expletives as the press before being bundled into the back of a waiting police car.
Calm soon returned and as the blinds of a bay window were opened, exposing the innards of the property, officers continue their search.
The scene on view was bleak. A tatty brown sofa surrounded by walls that had wallpaper starting to come away.
Piles of stereo speakers and wiring were seen littered across the room which had a set of gym weights as its centrepiece.
The street was now bathed in daylight as it slowly started to become a hive of activity as the working day edged ever closer.
People went about their daily business, mostly unaware of the drama that had just unfolded around them.
As the operation drew to a close, police began to leave the scene with the only reminder of their visit being a massive gaping hole in the front door of the property.