Leicestershire Police has carried out 43 warrants, arrested 38 people and made safeguarding visits to more than 20 vulnerable people during a national week of action targeting drug dealing and supply.
Officers also recovered cash, drugs and weapons as a result of the warrants carried out across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland during County Lines Intensification Week from Monday 9 October to Sunday 15 October 2023. The intensification week is designed to disrupt the supply of drugs, raise awareness of Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) and safeguard victims.
County Lines is the name given to drug dealing where organised criminal groups from cities exploit young people from smaller towns and rural areas into moving and supplying drugs. The ‘county line’ is the mobile phone line used to take the orders of drugs.
Operational activity across the week resulted in;
38 arrests – 5 individuals were charged with 11 separate offences
43 warrants carried out across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland
An ANPR operation which led to 6 vehicles being stop checked
Weapons recovered including machetes, knives, knuckle dusters, air rifles, taser and a blank firing pistol
Over £22,000 in cash being seized
More than £120,000 worth of drugs seized
Reached 7393 school pupils and 330 educational professionals with interactive preventative workshops
2 cars were seized
Safeguarded 20 individuals and visited 7 properties suspected of being cuckooed properties
Intelligence gathered for future warrants
38 stop searches and 2 arrests at Leicester Train Station with British Transport Police.
Leicestershire held a joint operation at Leicester Train Station with British Transport Police (BTP) on Saturday.
Sergeant Gary Warren from the BTP Midlands County Lines Task Force said; “The joint operation at Leicester Train Station was a great success, which went to highlight the great working relationship between Leicestershire Police and British Transport Police. Officers from the BTP County Lines Task Force regularly conduct proactive patrols and joint operations across the rail network, disrupting those intent on using the rail network to distribute drugs across the country and safeguarding those that are exploited in this process.”
The week was not just about enforcement – prevention and working with partners is also key to its success. Officers also carried out safeguarding visits, referring people where appropriate to Turning Point, who help people overcome drug and alcohol misuse. The force’s Children and Young Persons Officer, Kate Hudson, and Substance Misuse Team Leader, James Edmonston, held online and in-person workshops in schools reaching 7393 school pupils and 330 educational professionals.
The force’s Missing Person Reduction Unit (MPRU) visited children’s homes and spoke to staff and social workers about how to spot and prevent child criminal exploitation along with an overview of the force’s missing from home protocol. Children and young people involved in county lines may go missing or be out of touch for long periods. During these times, they may be at risk of harm or violence. The MPRU team also delivered training to neighbourhood officers on how to support young people who regularly go missing and the use of Child Abduction Warning Notices.
Assistant Chief Constable Michaela Kerr, said; “It is particularly important to us as a force, to tackle county lines and target and disrupt the criminals who prey on the vulnerable, and our young people, making their lives a misery. Enforcement action is vital in disrupting and bringing down the lines, and our results this week have been fantastic, but our work with partners, to identify and safeguard people who feel trapped, and show them a way out is equally important and of course, this doesn’t just happen during intensification weeks, it happens every day.”
Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Police and Crime Commissioner Rupert Matthews said: “I think many people will be shocked to learn that this type of activity is taking place in their area. But sadly, it does. Criminal gangs exploit the vulnerable people in our communities and we must do everything we can to prevent this activity and safeguard those at risk. It’s information from the community that often helps to identify those involved, so I urge people to report any suspicions.
“Robust enforcement of this kind helps to disrupt the supply chain and I am very impressed by the outcomes we are seeing thanks to this well-planned multi-agency activity. This type of intelligence led policing is continuing all year round as part of our drive to combat knife and violent crime. I thank those involved for their commitment.”
Across the force’s social media channels the campaign reached over 157,000 accounts ranging from vulnerable teens to responsible adults with 500 of them clicking on links in the posts to further support on the Livesafe website which is aimed specifically at young people. It is full of advice on how to get help and advice on staying safe in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland
The social media campaign also targeted trusted adults, with its ‘Are You Listening?’campaign which highlights the signs that might indicate a young person is caught up in child criminal exploitation and/or County Lines activity: Are you Listening? | Leicestershire Police (leics.police.uk)