Leicestershire Police has carried out 11 warrants, arrested 28 people and recovered more than £100,000 of drugs and £35,000 in cash during a national week of enforcement activity to target ‘county lines’ drug dealing.
The operation was part of a national County Lines Intensification Week (CLIW) (Monday 11 October to Sunday 17 October) which saw police forces up and down the country working with colleagues from a range of other agencies including children’s services, youth services, youth justice, housing providers, Community Safety Partnerships and local Violence Reduction Networks. In Leicestershire, teams from a range of agencies made 85 safeguarding visits to vulnerable young people.
Some of the drugs seized during the operation. Photo: Leicestershire Police.
County lines gangs export drugs into other areas of the country, often small towns, using dedicated mobile phone lines. They also exploit children and vulnerable adults to move and store drugs and money, sometimes using coercion, intimidation and violence.
Warrants were executed throughout the week.
The most notable was in Coalville where officers discovered a large cannabis factory with 900 plants valued at approximately £800,000 plus £11,930 in cash. Two men were charged and remanded another man was arrested and released under investigation.
At another warrant in East Leicester officers seized £200,000 of Class ‘A’ and ‘B’ drugs and £20,000 in cash and some ammunition. A man was arrested and charged and remanded into custody.
Chief Inspector Emma Maxwell said: “The national County Lines Intensification Week has come just a few weeks after we arrested 43 people under Op Impose in the Hinckley area taking out an entire county line. We searched 76 addresses and recovered almost £200,000 in cash, various offensive weapons and around 6kg of heroin with a value in excess of £300,000 – which doesn’t take into account the street value.
“If you add the results from the national week of action as well then we have had an incredibly successful month tackling county lines criminality across the force area. We’ve been able to take a very significant amount of drugs off our streets and prevented criminals from continuing to supply drugs. However, our operation is about more than just disrupting the supply lines, we are working with local organisations to get help for those who want it and during the national week of action we made 85 safeguarding visits to vulnerable young people.”
“The police cannot tackle county lines offending alone, it can only be done in partnership with many other organisations and I’d like to thank all our partners who are as determined as we are to protect vulnerable young people and give them to support to get out or not get involved in the first place.”
As well as enforcement activity a range of other operations ran across the week;
Training workshops and inputs into schools
The force’s Children and Young Persons Officer, Katie Hudson, and Substance Misuse Officer, James Edmondston, ran 10 county lines workshops throughout the week on Microsoft Teams. They spoke to 4736 pupils and 333 adult professionals who work with young people. The workshops are designed to help adults spot the signs of criminal exploitation in young people and warn teenagers of the dangers of getting involved in county lines.
Nearly 2,500 professionals including sports coaches, teachers and youth workers have now booked on to attend an online workshop. The demand for the workshops is so high the dates are being continually extended.
Are You Listening film
The force launched its ‘Are you Listening?’ film and campaign in November 2020 designed to teach people who work with young people how to spot the signs of child criminal exploitation (CCE) and found out how to get support or report CCE. Since then the campaign has been viewed over 4.7 million times. The film has been shortlisted for a Royal Television Society (RTS) Award in the Best Promotional Content category.
Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR)
An ANPR operation ran across Loughborough and West Leicester targeting vehicles that might be used to transport drugs and people resulting in 10 arrests, 2 cars being seized and 3 knives recovered.
Where to go for help and advice
Would you know how to spot the signs and where to go for help and support? To find out more about county lines visit: www.leics.police.uk/CountyLines
There is a new website specifically for young people to get help and advice on how to stay safe in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland www.livesafe.org.uk