Suffolk Constabulary has taken part in a national week of action against the on-going threat of County Lines and drug dealing.
During the week, Suffolk Constabulary along with other forces conducted arrests and warrants, organising dedicated patrols, gathering intelligence across the county to ensure that the force continues to make Suffolk a hostile environment for criminals to operate in.
As part of the week of action officers made 19 arrests, including offences for possession with intent to supply drugs.
Additionally, the force conducted 43 welfare and safeguarding visits to a number of properties. These locations have historically been vulnerable to the problems of ‘cuckooing’ where drug dealers befriend or extort a vulnerable person and takes over their property to sell drugs from. 30 vulnerable adults and children were spoken to in terms of their safeguarding measures.
Drugs worth around £11,500 recovered, with around £4,500 in cash also seized and 10 weapons seized, including knives, crossbows and knuckle dusters.
Fearless posters and #LookCloser resources have also been distributed into our communities and across our partnerships.
School liaison, engagement and children and young person officers have all been collectively engaged in this week of activity, supporting education and awareness raising, delivering inputs into schools which has resulted in a total of 15 inputs to 2130 children.
Chief Supt Marina Ericson said: “These figures demonstrate that we’ve had another productive week in tackling drug dealing and associated criminality and protecting our most vulnerable.
“It is important to recognise that that our work to address the issue of ‘county lines’ and drug supply is something we tackle all year round.
“We are working harder than ever to crack down on drugs, prevent harm and protect people, which we know brings misery to communities in the form of drug dealing and violence.
“Tackling county lines is in equal parts about safeguarding victims, shutting down the line and targeting line holders, encourage those involved to seek support and advice to help them exit their current situation.”
“Our constant work to tackle drug criminality revolves around our three proactive Sentinel teams, based across the county and who tackle serious and organised criminal activity. We also use our Serious Crime Disruption Teams, Operation Scorpion teams and locally based officers, as well as support from our three Kestrel teams – two of which are brand new and started work this month.
The Kestrel teams deploy into particular areas for a period of time to target crime and engage with communities. They support community and local policing priorities through community engagement, tackling criminality.
Chief Supt Ericson added: “It’s a complex problem, with links to exploitation, vulnerability, knife and other violent and gang related offences. County Lines will always be tackled through a partnership approach, prioritising the protection of our most vulnerable and making best use of the criminal justice partnership to remove criminals from our streets.”
Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk Tim Passmore said: “The threat from the illegal drugs trade is a major concern for residents and businesses right across the county and it is raised with me at nearly every public engagement I hold.
“Catching these despicable individuals involved in County Lines and bringing them to justice is absolutely crucial for all of us who live and work in Suffolk and this will continue to be a major priority in our new police and crime plan.
“I support this intense focus on this dreadful crime and these excellent results speak for themselves. I congratulate the Constabulary for their achievements and promise this work will continue until all County Lines in Suffolk are destroyed
County lines is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs within the UK. The gang establishes a drug market in a rural town, with origins to an urban city location with mobile phones frequently used to facilitate the drug deals. They are likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults to move and store the drugs and money and they will often use coercion, intimidation, violence and weapons.
We all have a role to play in keeping our local areas safe from drug dealing, and associated gang exploitation and violence.
If you suspect drug dealing is taking place or you are concerned that a young person or vulnerable adult may have been targeted by an organised crime group, please tell us. You don’t have to be certain, just concerned.
Call us on 101 or if you prefer you can contact Crimestoppers to report anonymously – online or by calling 0800 555 111.
If someone is in immediate danger or a crime is taking place you should always dial 999.
Last week’s activity (10 – 17 October) was coordinated by the National County Lines Coordination Centre set up by the National Crime Agency and NPCC