It is a Thursday evening and I am out on patrol with a member of Birmingham East Gangs unit.
Our brief is to mark out suspicious vehicles, cars being driven erratically, drug dealing and criminal behaviour around Alum Rock, Stechford and Bordesley Green.
I am shadowing a ‘spotter’ who is a officer in plain clothes, driving an unmarked car and using his local knowledge and other intelligence to spot crime.
Three individuals – one female and two males – standing on the corner of Belchers Lane in Bordesley Green catch his eye and he stops to observe from a distance.
When asked what it is about the group which grabs his attention, he replies: “They look vulnerable and fairly unkempt.
“The female looks quite slim and she’s been on the phone three times which is indicative of chasing the drug dealer.
“They are looking around being observant.”
As the spotter continues watching he explains how drug dealers use a combination of customer service and attractive offers, to get their users hooked.
“Drug dealers want regular customers,” he said. “They tend to look after their customers and rely on their repeat business and that they won’t tell the police on them.
“They offer them deals like three for the price of two. It’s quite customer service based, it’s quite a business. They try to serve up more to a person, they deliver to your home sometimes.
“If there’s a HMO, they might go in and sell to multiple users so they have a captive audience.
“It’s not uncommon that when you come out of prison clean, you will have drug dealers pop drugs through your letterbox.
“They also allow them to build up debt and once they have that debt, they have got some control.”
Meanwhile, the group under surveillance walks out of sight but the spotter refrains from following them so not to arouse suspicion.
Another police patrol watch them before giving chase to a drug dealer who came with a delivery.
At any one time, the Birmingham East Gangs unit, is monitoring the actions of around 100 individuals.
The unit organised a number of suppression and intelligence gathering exercises involving a large amount of officers flooding the streets of Alum Rock, Bordesley Green and Stechford, from August 20 to August 31.
Police recovered nine weapons from knives to baseball bats, seized almost 20 vehicles suspected of links to gangs and organised crime, and more than £1,200 which appeared to be linked to criminality.