Test Valley officers support National County Lines Intensification week, disrupting drugs supply in Andover
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Between Monday, 7 March and Sunday,13 March, officers in Test Valley supported a national week of action to disrupt county lines networks and the supply of drugs across the district.
County Lines is a term used to describe organised criminal networks who use dedicated mobile phone lines to move illegal drugs out of bigger cities into smaller towns and cities in the UK.
County Lines are run by ‘line holders’ and the runners, who are often young and vulnerable children, are used to deliver and store the drugs. The line holders are likely to use coercion, intimidation, violence and weapons in order to exploit vulnerable people, which can often lead to incidents involving serious violence.
On Monday, 7 March, specialist officers in Andover carried out a warrant at an address in Galahad Close. No arrests were made however an imitation firearm and scales suspected of being used in connection with drugs were located and seized from inside the property.
During the week officers visited 13 cuckooed addresses in Andover and spoke with the residents to provide safeguarding advice.
The local teams will continue to work alongside housing partners to safeguard these vulnerable tenants and ensure they are receiving the monitoring and support that they need.
As part of their ongoing work, officers from Andover’s Neighbourhood Policing team will continue to identify and engage with vulnerable children and adults, referring them to services that can offer them support where necessary.
Sergeant Pete Robinson from Andover’s Neighbourhood Policing team said “Disrupting county lines drug dealing and preventing the exploitation of vulnerable children and adults people remains one of our priorities in Andover.
“County Lines is a term used to describe criminal groups who set up drug dealing operations in a place outside of their usual operating area. The groups move their drug dealing from big cities such as London and Liverpool to smaller towns in order to make more money. This can have a really big impact on communities who live there and brings with it serious criminal behaviour.
“Where there are drugs, there is almost always violence which is why tackling and disrupting the supply of drugs, especially through County Lines, is a vital part of our work to reduce violent crime and keep people safe.
“Often, drug dealers will take advantage of and exploit vulnerable housing tenants, taking over their home and using it as a base for their criminal operation. This is known as ‘cuckooing’. Not only do these gangs exploit vulnerable people, but they also target children and recruit them into their criminal network.
“This national week of intensification has shone a spotlight on those involved in these toxic networks and we will continue to keep up the pressure on those known to us locally as being involved in this kind of activity.
“Working alongside our partners, we are committed to bringing criminals to justice and supporting people who are exploited by criminals.”
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 via 101, the Hampshire Constabulary website or Crimestoppers where reports can be made 100% anonymously.
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?
Cuckooing 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.
An increase in people coming and going
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.