Warwickshire Police arrest 29 people in County Lines crackdown
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The latest ‘Week of Action’ to tackle County Lines criminality has resulted in 29 arrests and disruption to 6 County Lines in Warwickshire.
‘Operation Bracebridge’ was the Warwickshire policing response to a national County Lines Intensification Week, which ran from 7-13 March.
During the week all police forces in England and Wales engaged in operations to crackdown on drugs traffickers and safeguard children and vulnerable people caught up in their criminality.
Warwickshire’s response involved the collaboration of a complete cross-section of the force, partner agencies and charities, and achieved significant interference with County Line operations in the county. This included:
Searches and warrants
• 10 searches of properties and 5 pre-planned drugs warrant executions • Over 25 targeted stop and search of individuals
Arrests and safeguarding Interventions
• 29 Arrests, the majority of who were adult men • 4 safeguarding referrals for children aged 15-18 years old and 1 adult referral
Assets and drugs seized
• £1,741.75 in cash from suspects in custody • 255 wraps (43.4gms) of Crack/Cocaine and 98 wraps (18.4gms) of Heroin (estimated street value £379,00 and £4,900 respectively) • 2 separate makeshift Cannabis farms with a combined total of over 900 plants (estimated street value of £379,000) • 13 mobile phones linked to ‘line’ holders • 1 S5 firearm (CS spray)
A vital reason to tackle County Lines is the safeguarding of young children and vulnerable adults, often groomed to run drugs from one city to other parts of the country. Grooming is often followed by extreme violence and coercive behaviour.
Warwickshire Police Safer Neighbourhood Teams engaged in a series of targeted county-wide preventative initiatives promoting the dangers of County Lines involvement and the signs of exploitation. These included:
• Workshops and engagement in educational settings including 12 schools, colleges and universities • Awareness campaigns targeting hotels, transport services, housing offices, retail outlets, local businesses and youth and community centres • Safeguarding visits to vulnerable individuals and communities at risk of exploitation • Foot patrols and youth engagement in parks, car parks, town centres, train stations and known hotspot areas • Drop-in sessions with youth groups, youth clubs and at community centres
Detective Chief Inspector Neil Reader, Proactive CID, said “County Lines is a priority area for Warwickshire Police and we are unified and resolute in our determination to tackle this form of organised criminality.
“The intensification week has been successful in causing significant disruption to lines operating in the county and in generating intelligence that will be used to protect our communities and bring offenders to justice.
“The technical abilities available to police, and knowledge that has been gathered, mean County Lines are no longer a low risk and high reward enterprise.
“We will continue with our proactive, robust and joined up approach to ensure that Warwickshire remains a hostile environment to these criminal gangs who inflict so much misery to individuals, families and communities through drug dealing, violence and exploitation.
“We cannot stop this criminality alone and we are grateful to our partners and the safeguarding groups and charities that are a vital tool in the fight against County Lines. Members of the public also play a critical role in spotting signs of exploitation and reporting them to the police.”
Anyone with information on suspected drug dealing or victims oF exploitation should call Warwickshire Police on 101. Information can also be given anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Notes to editors
• County Lines is the term used to describe drug dealing where mobile phones are used to supply drugs from large cities to towns and rural areas. County Lines are run by ‘Line Holders’ who exploit children and vulnerable people to move, store and deal the drugs. • The public can also play a crucial role in spotting signs of exploitation and reporting them to the police and The Children’s Society ‘Look Closer’ campaign highlights how everyone from commuters to transport and shop staff can help children to escape horrific exploitation. Click here for more.