37 arrested across West Mercia in County Lines Intensification Week
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Officers across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire have arrested 37 people during the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) co-ordinated week of activity targeting county lines gangs.
‘County Lines’ activity involves a group from a large urban area travelling to smaller locations to sell drugs. They may challenge an existing group from the local area or another CL group in order to take over the local market which often causes an increase in violent incidents.
County Lines groups travel between urban and county locations on a regular basis to collect drugs and deliver cash. They will use local properties as a base for their activities; this is often acquired by force or coercion referred to as ‘cuckooing’.
A national and regional week of intensification took place between 11 October and 17 October and included the execution of a number of warrants at addresses, various vehicle stops and numerous visits to educational and community venues.
Drugs with an estimated street value of more than £50,000 were seized during the week.
Across the West Mercia policing area weapons including three air-weapons and five knives were confiscated, four vehicles were seized, multiple mobile phones as well as more than £46,000 cash recovered during the week of intelligence led intensified activity.
Where vulnerable people are known to live and potentially be at risk to cuckooing for example, 104 addresses were visited.
Assistant Chief Constable Damian Barratt said: “Last week’s targeted activity tackling county lines gangs demonstrates how our officers are working tirelessly to disrupt and dismantle drugs supply and protect the young and vulnerable people who are exploited by them in our communities.
“With 37 arrests made, various warrants executed and cars stopped we have significantly disrupted county lines activity across West Mercia. Importantly, we have safeguarded a number of vulnerable people.
“The great work done by all officers and staff involved goes on all of the time and it is important to remember that operations such as these during this national week of intensification are very much ‘business as usual’ for all our teams. The intelligence gathering and preparation that has gone into making arrests and disrupting these drug trafficking lines have been, in some cases, weeks and months in the making.
“Education is also key, and our officers have conducted many visits to schools, social care providers, health professionals and other important community groups. By providing information on what to look for we can help the community to spot the signs of cuckooing – where gangs target the most vulnerable individuals and use their homes to sell drugs from. As well giving advice on how to spot the signs of vulnerable young people and adults being used in dealing drugs.
“County lines continues to remain a priority for West Mercia Police. We want to ensure the region becomes a no go area for travelling criminality. We will continue to pursue and prosecute those who bring drugs into our counties, commit violence and exploit vulnerable members of our communities.”
Anyone with suspicions that a property is being used to sell drugs from, or that a young and/ or vulnerable individual may be getting involved with county lines drug dealing is asked to contact their local police station or to ring 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 where the information can be given anonymously.
The Protect campaign sees police work closely with partners to tackle serious and organised crime and the harm it causes. The broad-ranging campaign comprises four key areas of activity:
Pursue - prosecuting and disrupting those involved in SOC
Prevent - stopping individuals from becoming involved in SOC
Protect - increased levels of protection against SOC
Prepare - reducing the impact of SOC where it occurs