Eighteen County Lines networks disrupted in Hampshire during Intensification Week
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Hampshire & Isle of Wight Constabulary led a number of successful operations to crackdown on criminal groups during County Lines Intensification Week, which ran from Monday 27th February to Sunday 5th March 2023.
County Lines means to deal drugs using mobile phones, usually from large cities to towns and rural areas in the UK. Line holders and runners, often young, vulnerable children, deliver the drugs. It's linked to some of the most serious crimes, such as human trafficking, modern slavery, child exploitation, serious violence, and the possession and use of weapons.
During the national intensification week, the force has disrupted more than 18 County Line networks with 154 stop checks made, officers made 93 arrests, and 44 vulnerable people were safeguarded.
The following was found and seized:
£25,595 in cash
11 deal phones
Three bats, knuckledusters and hammers
Across Hart and Rushmoor, 11 individuals have been arrested as £17,990 worth of heroin and crack cocaine was recovered, officers also found cannabis, firearms, knives, machetes, and large amounts of cash. Most notably, our officers executed a warrant at Grosvenor Road in Aldershot and discovered a cannabis factory with 377 plants with an estimated value of £250,000. A 35-year-old male was arrested and remains on police bail. As a result of the investigations that took place across the district, four drug lines have been intercepted.
Over the national intensification week, eight individuals were arrested across Basingstoke. Officers arrested two for theft of £3,000 worth of goods from an Apple Store.
A male was stopped in Tadley by the High Harm Team, he was then searched under the Misuse of Drugs Act. He was arrested for supply of Class A and his vehicle was seized and prohibited.
A warrant was carried out at a suspected cuckoo’d address and officers found and seized a number of large knives.
Another warrant was carried out at Winklebury Centre where three individuals were arrested for firearms offences. Two BB guns, a bat, six knives, a large quantity of cannabis, Class A drugs, 10 phones, and £1,045 were seized. The investigation is currently ongoing.
Officers carried out patrols and warrants across Portsmouth, which led to 13 arrests, two community resolutions, 13 stop searches and 11 home visits. Class A drugs were found and seized along with burner phones and large amounts of cash.
In Southampton, officers made 21 arrests, 13 of those for drug supply offences, they stopped and searched 70 individuals and searched 12 properties. As a result, they seized more than 900 deal-sized packages of drugs and a significant amount of cash.
In the Test Valley District, 13 arrests were made, eight weapons were seized including two zombie knives, Class A and Class B drugs and over £3,000 in cash was found.
In Eastleigh, three arrests were made for being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs. Drugs and £540 in cash were located during a search of two males. The two males aged 38 and 39 and a 40-year-old female remains under investigation for this offence. A search warrant was also executed at Meon Crescent where a small amount of class B cannabis was located.
Chief Inspector Marcus Kennedy, County Lines Intensification Week lead, said: “County Lines can have a significant impact on violence and crimes associated in our communities.
“Targeting these drugs networks is a priority for Hampshire & Isle of Wight Constabulary, and intensification weeks allows targeted resources across Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and the country to tackle every aspect of these abhorrent organised criminal gangs.
“Last week, we undertook a week of action, executing warrants at key properties known for drug dealing, targeting transport networks used by county lines gangs, safeguarded victims, making significant arrests and removing a considerable amount of illegal drugs from the streets.
“This week of activity was not only about focusing on criminal gangs who prey on the vulnerable but also about supporting and protecting those who become victims of exploitation.
"We all have a responsibility to look for the signs of exploitation. This could be a child with new clothing, an expensive phone or unexplained cash. They may have a change in behaviour or are suddenly going missing.
“The public have been instrumental in supporting our operation around County Lines. Their information and engagement has assisted in making key arrests, making your communities safe.
“We would encourage anyone who believes that they are a victim of County Lines to get in touch on our non-emergency number 101, always call 999 in an emergency. Similarly, if you believe someone is caught up in County Lines activity or you have any information about drug dealing in your area, we ask that you reach out to us.
“Hampshire & Isle of Wight Constabulary will continue to target County Lines networks and their associated crimes, holding them to account for their actions and making their lives as difficult as possible. I do not apologise for this.”
To find out more about the signs to look out for and who to contact, visit our County Lines webpage.
The Children’s Society is a charity that supports children and vulnerable young people effected by County Lines and other crimes and abuse. Safeguarding is also an important part of investigations carried out by forces across the country, as young vulnerable people are often forced into crimes through physical, emotional and financial coercion.
You can also report crimes anonymously through Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111 or visit the website.