Significant arrests made in 'county lines' week of action
Main article content
County lines intensification week involved the execution of warrants, protecting the vulnerable and intercepting vehicles potentially involved in county lines activity.
Leicestershire Police have carried out 33 warrants, arrested 37 people and safeguarded 17 children and 10 adults 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 17 May to Sunday 23 May) which saw police forces up and down the country working with a range of partners to make arrests and safeguard the vulnerable.
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 in hotspot areas such as Charnwood, North West Leicestershire, Melton Mowbray and East and West Leicester. As well as arresting 37 people, officers recovered what’s believed to be class A and B heroin, crack cocaine, cannabis, a large quantity of cash, a Rolex watch, 29 phones, three laptops, numerous sets of scales, blank firing firearms and ammunition, a BB gun and a stolen car. Some of the warrants were carried out with officers from the East Midlands Special Operation Unit (EMSOU).
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Sinski from the Force Intelligence Bureau said: “It has been an incredibly successful week not just in terms of arrests and charges but also in the way we have worked with so many partners from community safety partnerships to education and social services, as well as drug intervention organisations such as Turning Point, to protect vulnerable people who are being exploited. Drugs have a very negative affect on people’s lives and blight communities by bringing crime and anti-social behaviour to their doorstep.
“There is no doubt in my mind that our enforcement action will have significantly disrupted the supply of drugs into our county towns but we are not complacent and will continue to focus on this priority area with more warrants already planned.”
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 11 county lines workshops throughout the week on Microsoft Teams. They spoke to 2808 pupils; 98 teachers and 466 adults 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.
Just over 2,000 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 we've had to extend the event three times.
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). Since then it has reached 3.6 million trusted adults across the campaign; over 1 million people have viewed the film with 28,000 unique clicks to the website to find out how to spot the signs, get support or report CCE.
Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR)
Two Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) operations in hotspot areas resulted in the arrest of 7 people for offences including concerned in supply, possession with intent to supply drugs; disqualified driving and driving while under the influence of drugs.
Three smaller ANPR operations ran across south Leicester leading to five arrests for a range of offences including wanted on recall to prison; two tested positive for drugs; two for drink driving and one on suspicion of domestic abuse.
Leicestershire Police ran a joint operation with British Transport Police at Leicester Train Station using a knife arch and police dog to look for people who might be carrying a weapon. They carried out 9 stop searches during the operation.
Officers are working with taxi drivers to highlight to them what signs to look for when they pick up passengers and how to report anything suspicious to the police. An information leaflet was emailed to the major taxi companies and given to drivers waiting in taxi ranks.
Chief Constable, Simon Cole QPM, said; “An enormous amount of hard work goes into the planning and execution of these intense weeks of action but the excellent results speak for themselves. We have taken a large amount of drugs off our streets and arrested people whose actions blight communities and prey on the vulnerable. I’m glad that we’ve been able to safeguard vulnerable adults and young people, and refer them on to other agencies to get the help and support they need, to have a better future.
“My thanks go to everyone involved.”
Rupert Matthews the force’s new Police and Crime Commissioner said; “I observed joint operations between Leicestershire Police and British Transport Police at Leicester Station during county lines week. I was deeply impressed by the dedication and skills shown by Leicestershire Police and British Transport Police when confronting criminal activity.
“County lines week was a demonstration of an intelligence-led operation; it serves to counter drug smugglers who are exploiting vulnerable children and using them as a way of getting harmful and illegal drugs into our city and two counties.
“Prevention strategies like this are not just a great demonstration of reacting to and stopping crime but also a great way of deterring criminals.
“I must say that the police have been doing a fantastic job and it is teamwork like no other. I look forward to seeing some great results.”