Officers in Gosport support national week of action to tackle County Lines drugs supply
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Hampshire Constabulary supported the National County Lines Intensification Week between 7th and 13th March 2022.
County lines drug dealing is a crime which impacts communities and involves the exploitation of vulnerable people including children.
Criminal gangs set up a drug dealing operation in a place outside their usual operating area, with deals taking place away from larger cities such as London and Liverpool, and instead being carried out in smaller towns like we have in Hampshire.
This can have a huge impact on the communities living in these areas, and brings with it serious criminal behaviour.
We are doing more than ever before to understand the methods used by criminals involved in county lines and the importance of safeguarding vulnerable people.
Throughout the intensification week, officers in Gosport conducted a warrant at a flat in Warders Court, Chilworth Grove, and carried out regular patrols across the borough.
During the warrant, which was executed on Wednesday 9 March, a 55-year-old man at the address was dealt with by means of community resolution for possession of cannabis.
Patrol activity was targeted to known drug dealing hotspots. Shortly after the warrant at Chilworth Grove, patrolling officers stopped and searched a man in a local hotspot.
As a result, 46-year-old Brian Mitchell, of St Vincent Road in Gosport, was arrested and charged with heroin possession. He will appear at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court on 31 March.
The patrol activity throughout the week was made up of a mixture of high visibility and plain clothes patrols, as well as marked and unmarked vehicle patrols.
Neighbourhoods officers were out and about on foot and bicycle, but we were also fortunate to have the support of the police horses from the Thames Valley Police Mounted Unit.
PCs Webb and Wenman, on horseback, joined Neighbourhoods officers as they conducted engagement work in the town and also patrolled drug dealing hotspots.
Acting Inspector Alison Zachs, said: “Drugs supply makes lives of local residents an absolute misery.
“Not only does it bring people from outside of the area to commit crime, but it also attracts other types of crime to the area as well as anti-social behaviour which has a negative impact on the local community.
“For these intensification weeks, we use a lot of our resources to focus on drugs supply in the local area.
“I don’t want people to think that we don’t do this sort of activity outside of weeks of action – we do. It’s the case that with weeks of intensification we can pull lots of resources in and focus on it, however we do also throughout the year still concentrate on this type of behaviour.
“We can only do this work with the help of the public. We want to make a real plea to members of the public to please keep providing information about drugs supply to us.
“If you are affected in your area, or you see something that you feel is suspicious, report it to us and we can build a picture of what is going on.
“Sometimes you may not see an immediate police response, but that’s because we need to build an evidential picture of the issues and the areas that need targeting. Every single piece of information you supply to us will be assessed and if we can, we will action it.”
Spotting the signs
We encourage our communities to spot the signs that someone might be involved in drugs supply, and to report any suspicious activity to us.
Some of the things to look out for and consider include:
Do you know someone who is always going missing from school or their home?
Are they travelling alone to places far away from home?
Do they suddenly have lots of money/lots of new clothes/new mobile phones?
Are they receiving much more calls or texts than usual?
Are they carrying or selling drugs?
Are they carrying weapons or know people that have access to weapons?
Are they in a relationship with or hanging out with someone/people that are older and controlling?
Do they have unexplained injuries?
Do they seem very reserved or seem like they have something to hide?
Do they seem scared?
Are they self-harming?
County Lines drugs suppliers are often involved in a practice known as cuckooing, which is when drug gangs take over the home of a vulnerable person through violence and intimidation, using it as their base for selling/manufacturing drugs.
The signs of cuckooing include:
An increase in people coming and going from the address
An increase in cars or bikes outside
Signs of drugs use
You haven’t seen the person who lives there recently or when you have, they have been anxious or distracted
If you have any information about this type of behaviour you can call police on 101, make a report 100% anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, or visit Fearless.org