Officers visit vulnerable people as part of county lines week of action
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Officers from Warwickshire Police have been visiting vulnerable people as part of a week of action on county lines crime.
Throughout the national week of action (7-13 October 2019), police visited vulnerable people across the county to check they were not being exploited by county lines drug dealers and to build up a better picture of county lines issues in the area.
‘County lines’ is a term used to describe gangs transporting drugs from bigger cities into smaller towns. This is a national problem involving drug gangs operating from cities including Birmingham, London, Manchester and Liverpool.
Drug dealers often exploit vulnerable people by forcing them to deal drugs or taking over their home to deal from – a practice known as cuckooing.
In addition, five people were arrested as two warrants were carried out in the county:
Officers from the Rugby Offender Management Unit executed a warrant at a house in Park Road, Rugby, where they seized a substance believed to be heroin and arrested a 57-year-old man from Rugby on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of drugs.
Officers executed a warrant at a house in Nightingale Close, Atherstone. Two men from Atherstone aged 39 and 41, and two men from Birmingham aged 24 and 25, were arrested on suspicion of possession of class A drugs with intent to supply. A quantity of crack cocaine, heroin and cannabis with a significant street value were seized from the address along with drug paraphernalia. More information.
While not thought to be county lines related, officers also arrested a 42-year-old man from Stratford following reports someone had been trying to sell "magic mushrooms" in Leamington. Officers searched his address and seized more drugs. The man was bailed until November while enquiries continue.
Detective Inspector Dave Andrews from the Warwickshire Police Proactive CID and Offender Management Unit explained: “Disrupting county lines crime has become ‘business as usual’ in Warwickshire with arrests or proactive operations happening most weeks.
“We used the week of action to visit vulnerable people to check they weren’t being exploited and develop intelligence that will inform future county lines enforcement activity.”
Detective Chief Inspector Neil Reader from the Warwickshire Police Proactive CID and Offender Management Unit said: “The nature of county lines crime is that it crosses force boundaries and this is why we work closely with surrounding forces to deal with the problem.
“By working with these forces we get a better idea of who is coming into the county to deal drugs and where they are operating. This should serve as a warning to criminals.”
Warwickshire Police recently urged local people not to ignore the signs of county lines crime.
DCI Reader adder: “The problem of county lines is not one we can solve on our own; the public are our eyes and ears in the community.
“Many of the warrants we execute and the arrests we make are a result of information provided by the public. We act on all the information provided; while we can’t always respond immediately to reports, each piece of information helps us to build up a better intelligence picture and get a better idea of who is offending in our communities.
“Trust your instincts and please don’t ignore the signs.”
Police are urging people to look out for the following signs:
Children or young people going missing from home or school.
Changes in a person's behaviour or emotional wellbeing.
Children or young people socialising with unfamiliar people.
A person starting to abuse drugs and alcohol.
Someone acquiring money they can't account for.
Someone buying expensive goods they can't afford.
Lone children visiting from outside the area.
Someone with multiple phones, tablets or SIM cards.
Unknown or suspicious people going into a neighbour's house - especially if that neighbour is vulnerable.
Anyone with information or concerns about county lines crime or that someone vulnerable is being exploited, please call police on 101. Alternatively, information can be provide anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.