PCC praises County Lines Intensification Week success

Suffolk police arrest 53 people with more than a kilogram of class A drugs seized during County Lines Intensification Week.

Police in Suffolk arrested 53 people and seized more than a kilogram of Class A drugs during a recent national week of proactivity to tackle county lines drug dealing.

The most recent County Lines Intensification Week took place between 27 February and 5 March. In total 121.5g of crack cocaine, 204g of heroin and 756.6g of cocaine was discovered, with £15,675 in cash also seized. Five phones were also seized that are believed to be connected to drug dealing lines.

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: “The threat to society from the illegal drugs business is huge – it wrecks lives, and whole communities are affected. Sadly, the drug barons often prey on individuals who are at risk and very vulnerable, which is absolutely despicable.

“I would like to congratulate the officers involved in this intensification week. The results speak for themselves and build on the excellent work already being done.

“That said, there is no room for complacency, and I can assure everyone I will do everything possible to provide the resources necessary to try and eliminate this problem from our county and protect the victims being exploited by these criminals.”

Officers ensured a number of vulnerable adults and children were safe, with further safety advice shared, while in total Suffolk police engaged with more than 1,500 adults and children as part of the campaign to raise awareness of county lines and associated criminality, including exploitation and modern slavery.

Detective Chief Inspector Matt Bodmer said: “The results from this week demonstrate how various policing teams across Suffolk have come together to disrupt county lines.

“We have not only made a number of arrests we have also identified a number of vulnerable people being exploited and worked closely with our partners to provide suitable support.

“There have been events around the county to highlight the risk of county lines and what to look for and how to report it, not only to the police but to our partners and charities. With us all working together we can make Suffolk a hostile environment for county lines to operate.

“This work continues to take place throughout the year, not just proactive weeks such as this.”

Officers attended local schools and spent time with staff and pupils. This included talking to pupils during their break and lunchtimes, offering the opportunity to have informal conversations about county lines, exploitation and drug related crime, and what to look out for.

As part of a modern slavery training package, officers spent time with Bury Town Pastors, discussing county lines and cuckooing.

Various scenarios were discussed in which the pastors may encounter county line or drug related criminality with advice given on how to support victims and raise concerns to assist early police interventions.

Other community work included discussing modern slavery with Reach Haverhill, a community organisation that works to support those struggling with debt, low incomes and homelessness. Vulnerable adults and children and those with financial difficulties are susceptible to being coerced into illegal activity as part of county lines drug dealing.

Work also took place at prisons to tackle drugs being smuggled in, while police officers and staff met with hotel employees and public transport companies to discuss what staff should be aware of in relation to county lines and how to report any concerns to police.

Officers and staff, alongside partner agencies, attended train stations and public transport hubs in Suffolk to engage with staff and rail users. County lines dealers often use trains and public transport to move drugs across the country and across Suffolk. This includes vulnerable people and children who are exploited and made to transport and deal drugs by criminal gangs.

The week of activity was coordinated by the National County Lines Coordination Centre set up by the National Crime Agency and NPCC

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We all have a role to play in keeping our local areas safe from drug dealing, and associated gang exploitation and violence.

If you suspect drug dealing is taking place or you are concerned that a young person or vulnerable adult may have been targeted by an organised crime group, please tell us. You don’t have to be certain, just concerned.

Some of the tell-tale signs of county lines are an increase in visitors or cars to a house or flat, regularly changing residents, signs of substance misuse or evident drug paraphernalia.

*County lines is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs within the UK. The gang establishes a drug market in a rural town, with origins to an urban city location with mobile phones frequently used to facilitate the drug deals. They are likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults to move and store the drugs and money and they will often use coercion, intimidation, violence and weapons.

*Cuckooing – vulnerable adults and young people are frequently used, and in some cases drug dealers take over the property of a vulnerable person and use it as a place from which to run their drugs business.

If you have any information please call the Constabulary on 101, report online at www.suffolk.police.uk/contact-us/report-something/report-crime or if you prefer you can contact Crimestoppers to report anonymously – online or by calling 0800 555 111.

If someone is in immediate danger or a crime is taking place you should always dial 999.

Information and advice for young people about gang/county lines culture and how to leave a gang can be found at: www.suffolk.police.uk/advice/gangs-information-and-advice