A specialist policing unit has seized an estimated £1 million worth of drugs and cash from criminals in its first year of operation.

Sussex Police’s Specialist Enforcement Unit (SEU) was set up in January 2021 to tackle serious and dangerous offenders using the road network and to disrupt the supply of drugs into the county.

The team of highly-trained officers and detectives has already accounted for more than 21,000 policing hours across three divisions and has been involved in more than 400 arrests.

This has included working on operations such as murder investigations, tackling drugs offences, responding to driving offences and catching dangerous offenders and suspects wanted on warrants.

SEU officers cover hundreds of miles of the road network across Sussex every day, carrying out proactive patrols and working closely with colleagues such as the Roads Policing Unit (RPU), Serious Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), Border Force, Community Investigations Teams, the Force Intelligence Bureau, and divisional officers.

The unit has also helped forge effective working partnerships with neighbouring forces in Kent, Hampshire, Surrey and with the Metropolitan Police.

Some successes include more than 50 pre-emptive vehicle tactics used, 1,125 intelligence logs submitted, 556 stop searches, 222 vehicle seizures, and 96 weapons being seized.

The unit has helped with the safeguarding of vulnerable people by completing 75 referrals and has supported colleagues with 280 reports for minor traffic offences.

Chief Constable Jo Shiner said: “The launch of the Specialist Enforcement Unit a year ago increased our ability to deter, detect and disrupt serious criminals intent on travelling into Sussex to commit offences.

“Officers have provided extra, visible and robust policing on Sussex’s roads, using both marked and unmarked vehicles equipped with the latest technology to identify and intercept known offenders, target hot spots, and support colleagues in making the roads safer for everyone – one of our key priorities.

“From drugs and violent crime, to people trafficking, child exploitation and theft, most criminals have to use the roads which are therefore prime hunting ground for the police.

“I am delighted with the difference officers have made so far. The SEU has been relentless in its pursuit and capture of some of our most dangerous and prolific criminals by denying them use of the roads.”

The unit was established as part of a series of police enforcement teams including the Tactical Enforcement Units, the Rural Crime Team and extra Roads Policing Unit officers to be launched across Sussex in the last two years funded by the Government’s Uplift programme and local precept investment.

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “It has been a successful, crime-busting first year for the Specialist Enforcement Unit (SEU) as they tackle serious, violent and organised criminals using our county’s roads.

“I am delighted to see the extra investment that has enabled the SEU to be established has led to so many positive results in getting the most dangerous and prolific criminals off our roads and protecting our communities, especially those who are most vulnerable.

“The team’s impressive work and their relentless, proactive approach goes a long way towards making Sussex a much safer place for everyone.”