Police officers and staff from across the West Mercia Police force area supported the National Crime Agency’s County Lines Intensification Week, between 27 February and 5 March, which saw 60 arrests and a number of warrants carried out at residential properties.
Drugs with an estimated street value of more than £287,000 were seized during the week with 44 weapons such as replica guns, knives, machetes and batons and 9 vehicles also confiscated along with 59 mobile phones.
Nearly £7,000 in cash was also recovered by officers during the week of intelligence-led intensified activity. Enforcement activity directly resulted in the closure of three lines and the whole week of activity was our most successful to date.
County lines drug dealers often exploit children and young people, recruiting them to run drugs and cash between urban and county locations and to deal drugs on their behalf. Once recruited into county lines it can be difficult for those being exploited to leave, with fear and threats of violence used to keep them in place.
Vulnerable adults, such as those dependent on drug use, will also be targeted and their property taken over by drug dealers in a local area, a practice known as cuckoo-ing. Police teams visited 90 properties and 3 safeguarding referrals were made as a result of an intensified approach.
Detective Chief Inspector Oliver Ewels said: “Our enforcement activity during last week directly resulted in the closure of three lines. But education and early intervention is just as important in preventing exploitation and protecting our communities from county lines drug dealers and gangs. During County Lines Intensification Week officers and staff across the force visited schools, social care providers, health professionals and community venues to raise awareness of the county lines model and to highlight the signs that someone may be involved, or at risk of being exploited by drug dealers and gangs.
“It is vital to remember that operations such as these during this national week of intensification are very much ‘business as usual’ for all of our staff and highlight the great and often dangerous work they do throughout the year. The collection and development of intelligence is key to understanding the county lines picture in our communities, the gathering and preparation that goes into making arrests and disrupting county lines have been, in some cases, weeks and months in the making.
“Serious and Organised Crime and County Lines drug dealing remains a priority for West Mercia Police. We will work tirelessly to make sure our communities are unwelcoming for criminals travelling across our policing borders. We will continue to prioritise the pursuit and prosecution of 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, or that a young and vulnerable individual may be getting involved with county lines drug dealing can report this online at www.westmercia.police.uk or information can be given anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.