More than 100 vulnerable people were safeguarded against County Lines gangs during a week of intensification in the East Midlands recently.
The five East Midlands police forces, supported by the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU) and other partners, took part in the nationally-coordinated action aimed at disrupting those involved in County Lines drug dealing and safeguarding vulnerable victims, including children.
County Lines typically involves gangs selling their illicit 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 networks across the country.
Throughout the week (Monday 11 October – Sunday 17 October 2021) 57 people were arrested across the East Midlands force areas (Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire), thousands of pounds worth of Class A and B drugs were seized, and £115,157 in cash and 20 weapons were recovered. There were also 119 people, identified as vulnerable, who were safeguarded.
A number of warrants were carried out and officers and staff participated in #LookCloser awareness-raising work at the likes of transport hubs and schools.
EMSOU’s Regional Vulnerabilities Coordinator Stuart Jones said: “County Lines drug dealing is a particularly brutal and damaging crime in which people can be psychologically manipulated as well as physically harmed in order to elicit the desired outcome of moving and selling drugs around the country.
“During our investigations we are always looking closer at those involved in this type of criminality in a bid to recognise when someone is being exploited.
“By identifying 119 people in the region as being vulnerable to this type of coercion and corruption, we are not only able to help these individuals find the support they need to escape the cycle of abuse, but we are
also able to gain vital information around the way these gangs operate.
“We work together as the five forces of the East Midlands, through EMSOU and alongside colleagues across the country to tackle this sort of cross-border offending and through coordinated action such as this we can remove integral parts of these illicit networks and safeguard some very vulnerable people.”
#LookCloser for signs that a young person you know is being victimised by County Lines gangs.
Has their behaviour changed recently?
Are they sounding or dressing differently?
Have they been skipping school or going missing?
Are they flashing the cash?
Do they operate more than one mobile phone?
Are they travelling around more?
These can be indications of exploitation.
If you have information about drug dealing in your area, or if you’re concerned that someone you know may be involved in County Lines, call your local force as soon as possible on 101, or contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111 or via www.fearless.org