Police focus activity on County Lines drug networks during week of intensification
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National county lines intensification week, which targets drug traffickers who often recruit children and vulnerable adults to supply drugs across the country, ran from Monday, 11th to Sunday, 17th October.
Hampshire Constabulary alongside other forces in England and Wales engaged in operations to crackdown on county lines. These are the highlighted results:
• 43 arrested, including seven Under 18.
• 49 vulnerable people, including children, were engaged for safeguarding purposes activity. Of these, 28 were adult males, 13 were adult females, and a further eight were juveniles.
• £50,272 cash seized, as well as 3 Rolex watches which have yet to be valued
• 25 warrants
• 35 stop and searches related to county lines activity
• offensive weapons seized, 5 knives and 6 air weapons
• 63 mobiles seized
• £20,000 of Heroin seized
• 269 wraps of Crack Cocaine, 265 wraps of Heroin
• 10 landlords visited for engagement and educational awareness
• 26 cuckooed addresses visited
• 21 schools visited as part of welfare and education visits.
• 35 stop and searches were completed, and of those 5 individuals were from the London area, Birmingham or out of County.
County Lines is the term used to describe drug dealing where mobile phones are used to supply drugs from large cities to towns and rural areas. County Lines are run by ‘Line Holders’ and the runners, often young and vulnerable children, deliver the drugs. The system of drug distribution leads to serious violence and exploitation.
Police forces across the UK are using the full force of the law, including increased use of modern slavery legislation to charge line holders, for not only drug supply but also human trafficking offences.
This legislation, which can include preventative and restrictive measures, has helped ensure line holders are subject to Court Orders with strict conditions, often for many years after they leave custody.
County lines drug dealing is linked to the most serious violence, demonstrated through the weapons seized across the week, including zombie knives, machetes, firearms and air weapons.
Detective Inspector Lee Newman, County Lines Regional Co-ordinator for the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU), said: “County Lines drug dealing and associated criminality causes immeasurable harm to our communities, putting the most vulnerable in society at risk from exploitation.
“SEROCU works closely with police forces and partnership agencies in the south east to ensure staff have access to the specialist resources and training to target offenders. We work collaboratively to safeguard victims of these offences and to ensure those who exploit them face justice. We also work closely with prisons to disrupt those involved in County Lines activity.”
A vital reason to tackle county lines is the safeguarding of young children and vulnerable adults, often groomed to run drugs from one city to other parts of the country. Grooming is often followed by extreme violence and coercive behaviour.
Police can now bring victimless prosecutions for modern slavery offences, just one of the many ways officers are protecting young people. Victimless prosecutions ensure children and vulnerable adults are spared the ordeal of having to go through the court process and face the violent and abusive individual responsible for their suffering.
This county lines intensification week was again run in partnership with The Children’s Society and their #LookCloser campaign to spot the signs of exploitation in children and young people.
James Simmonds-Read, from The Children’s Society’s Prevention programme, which worked with forces to run its Look Closer campaign alongside the intensification week, said: “It’s vital that professionals spot instances where children have been exploited by criminals, so we are pleased that many vulnerable people - including young people - have been identified as being in need of support.
“The public can also play a crucial role in spotting signs of exploitation and reporting them to the police and Look Closer highlights how everyone from commuters to transport and shop staff can help children to escape horrific exploitation.
“Young people may not ask for help themselves because they have been manipulated into thinking they are making a choice or because they have been subjected to terrifying threats.”