Police forces in the East Midlands have had their most successful County Lines Intensification Week as a region, to date.
In an intensive week of action, more than 90 vulnerable people were safeguarded and five referrals were made for Modern Slavery concerns through the National Referral Mechanism, a framework for identifying and referring potential victims to ensure they receive appropriate support.
Across the region, 61 people were arrested for a number of offences including drug supply, Modern Slavery, money laundering and possession of offensive weapons, with dozens more arrests for unrelated matters.
Over £80,000 of suspected heroin was seized, along with more than £111,000 of suspected cocaine, and almost £55,000 in cash.
Three firearms were seized and two imitation firearms, along with 27 other weapons and multiple valuable assets including 15 vehicles.
A huge amount of yet unquantified Class A and B drugs including more than £15,000 worth of cannabis was taken off the streets, as at least three County Lines deal line phones were seized, effectively closing them down.
As part of the national intensification week, which took place from Monday 7 to Sunday 13 March 2022, police teams across Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire also engaged with taxi companies and visited hotels to raise awareness of County Lines amongst staff and partners.
They educated them around the #LookCloser campaign, which encourages people to learn the signs of child exploitation, look closer in their communities and know how to report it.
County Lines is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more importing areas within the UK, using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of ‘deal line.’
They are likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults to move and store the drugs and money, and will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) and weapons.
EMSOU’s Regional Vulnerabilities Co-Ordinator for County Lines, Stuart Jones, said: “We are committed to identifying and fighting signs of County Lines all year round, not just in this intensification week, but it’s absolutely great to see such high figures of vulnerable people safeguarded, dangerous criminals arrested, and drugs and weapons seized taken off the streets across the East Midlands.
"The amount of disruption from this week will have caused a huge inconvenience to those in charge of running the lines. Our work doesn’t finish here, we will continue to investigate those involved in County Lines, develop more intelligence to allow us to take further proactive action against those involved, and to safeguard those that sadly fall victim to such a selfish crime.”
If you are worried someone you know may be involved in County Lines, help is available: