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County line targeted activity results in 1,551 people engaged for safeguarding purposes

There were 1,551 vulnerable people engaged for safeguarding purposes following a week of concerted activity to tackle county line crimes in September.

Between 14 September and 20 September a week of activity was coordinated by the National County Lines Coordination Centre, which is jointly led by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the National Crime Agency and funded by the Home Office.

As a result of the activity, 1,551 people were identified for safeguarding and 69 referrals were made to the National Referral Mechanism, which assesses individuals as potential victims of human trafficking/modern slavery.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for County Lines, said: “Through significant efforts across policing we are beginning to turn what may have previously been considered a low risk, high reward enterprise on its head. Forces are working more closely on the disruption of County Lines than ever before and have closed down a large number of the most violent lines in the UK.

“By targeting those at the centre of County Lines, we not only disrupt the criminal network, but we prevent other criminality including serious violence from occurring. We are putting a spotlight on those responsible for coordinating widespread drug supply, and making them vulnerable to capture.

“County Lines causes misery for communities and it is absolutely right we continue targeting those responsible. The results from this week alone show policing’s unwavering commitment to protecting the public and bringing criminals to justice,” he added.

During the operation:

- 1,041 arrests were made

- 1,551 vulnerable people were engaged for safeguarding purposes

- 861 cuckooed addresses were visited

- 102 devices being used to operate County Lines were seized

- 69 referrals were made to the National Referral Mechanism

- £526,000 in cash was seized

- Drugs worth more than £1 million were seized including £876,000 of cocaine, £87,000 of crack cocaine and £234,000 of heroin

- 196 weapons were seized including 130 knives, 18 firearms, 5 samurai swords, and 10 knuckledusters.

More than 3,600 people have now been arrested for being involved in County Lines since November 2019 when new tactics were established to target the supply of drugs through this method. At this time, a number of pilot operations funded by the Home Office were launched focusing on the three force areas where the most lines originate from (Merseyside, West Midlands and the Metropolitan Police Service). They involve close collaboration with forces where the lines run into and investigating officers at either end of the line run joint investigations from start to finish.

Tackling violence in all its forms is an absolute priority for policing and significant effort has been invested in understanding how those involved in County Lines contribute to violent crime across the UK.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “I will not tolerate County Lines drugs gangs terrorising our communities and exploiting young people, which is why I have made tackling this threat a priority.

“I saw first-hand one of the operations last week and the results of this latest crackdown are hugely impressive. They send a clear message to criminals that law enforcement is coming after them.

“I will continue to back the police in their fight to roll up these gangs, including through our £25 million investment in this crucial work,” she concluded.

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