County lines disrupted following nationwide police week of action

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Almost 100 kilogrammes of class A drugs were seized and 140 people arrested across the east of England, as part of a nationwide week of action tackling county lines.

Police forces in the east of England, supported by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) and other partners, took part in the action aimed at disruption those involved in county lines criminality and safeguarding vulnerable victims, including children.

County lines typically involves drugs gangs selling their products in other towns using a dedicated phone line. These offenders are often linked to serious violence and use intimidation, grooming and exploitation, particularly of young or vulnerable people, to run drug dealing networks across the country.

Throughout the week (Monday 11 October – Sunday 17 October) approximately 94 kilogrammes of class A drugs, including crack cocaine and heroin, were seized, with a total value of more than half a million pounds.

More than £170,000 worth of cash was also seized.

140 people were arrested across the seven force area, while almost 100 vulnerable adults and children were engaged with and safeguarded where necessary.

Police forces carried out a number of different activities, including warrants at properties believed to be being used as bases for the lines, and awareness-raising work at key transport hubs.

Detective Inspector Kelly Gray, Regional County Lines Coordinator for ERSOU, said: “We’re really pleased with the results of this latest week of intensification action against county drugs lines.

“The forces within our region work tirelessly throughout the year to protect the most vulnerable members in our communities from those who wish to exploit them through this type of criminality.

“The fantastic results that we have seen this week across all areas are a testament to that work, and the region is undoubtedly a safer place as a result of the drugs lines that have been disrupted this week.

“We will continue to work hard alongside our forces and other partners in order to disrupt lines operation in our region and protect those being exploited from further harm.

“There are many different types of crime linked to county lines and our focus is on safeguarding those being exploited so we can get them the help they need. I’d urge anyone who thinks they know someone involved in associated criminality, or who is being exploited, to contact support services straight away.”

Possible signs of people being victimised by those running county lines include:

  • Changes in behaviour 
  • An unexplained amount of cash or new gifts such as clothes, jewellery, or expensive trainers
  • Owning a number of mobile phones
  • Unexplained travelling including train and bus tickets
  • Regularly going missing or skipping school
  • Physical signs of assault
  • Using new or different vocabulary, including slang words

If you have information about drug dealing in your area, or if you’re concerned that someone you know may be involved in a county line, it’s important you contact your local force as soon as possible on 101, or call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.