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County lines activity in Thames Valley leads to over 100 arrests, over 130,000 pounds in cash seized and over 100 people safeguarded

News   •   Jan 29, 2019 03:00 GMT

A week of action by Thames Valley Police has led to 106 arrests, 133,000 pounds cash being seized and over 100 people being safeguarded included 43 children in connection with County Lines drug dealing.

Last week (21/01-27/01) Thames Valley Police worked closely with partners, from local authorities, homeless charities and schools for a week-long intensification of activities to tackle County Lines drug dealing.

This week was a continuation of our Stronghold campaign which aims to work in partnership to tackle serious and organised crime.

County Lines drug dealing is the name given to drug dealing where organised criminal groups (OCGs) use phone lines to move and supply drugs, usually from cities into smaller towns and rural areas.

This type of drug dealing exploits children and vulnerable adults who may have mental health or addiction problems. Generally these people are exploited by OCGs to supply and run drugs through violence and intimidation. It’s a very harmful criminal business model which effects many in the Thames Valley.

Nationally organised crime is estimated to cost the UK economy over 37 billion pounds a year and has a significant impact on communities in the Thames Valley.

The week-long activity saw officers from the Thames Valley carrying out warrants, making arrests and other activity to disrupt County Lines drug dealers.

This led to 106 arrests of people who are connected to County Lines drugs, 27 warrants were executed, 156 stop and searches were carried out, and officers took over 2,800 wraps of cocaine, heroin and cannabis off the streets of the Thames Valley.

Additionally officers seized over 133,000 pounds worth of cash and took a number of weapons including machetes and flick knives out of the hands criminals, and also seized 147 phones linked to County Line drug dealing.

As a result of our activity we also safeguarded 43 children and 69 vulnerable adults, and our officers also carried out 41 school visits to give young people and teachers the information they need to spot the signs that someone is being groomed by an OCG.

We also visited 115 addresses where known “Cuckooing” has taken place. Cuckooing is where OCGs target the address of a vulnerable adult, taking over the property that the adult is living in and forcing them to sell drugs out of their home.

Detective Chief Superintendent Richard List, said: “This has been a hugely successful week for Thames Valley Police working with the National Crime Agency to tackle County Lines drug dealing.

“Thames Valley Police sees tackling OCGs and county lines as an absolute priority and through our Stronghold campaign we are determined to continue to work closely with our partners including Local Authorities, Schools, Health Professionals and charities, to safeguard children and vulnerable adults.

“I see the fact that we have safeguarded a number of adults and children from being exploited through violence, fear and intimidation by drug dealers this week as a real success.

“However this intensification week is just a continuation of the work Thames Valley Police officers and our partners have been carrying out over the last few years.

“We will continue to act every single day to stop those who seek to damage our communities through this extremely harmful criminal activity.

“It is important for us all to be familiar with the signs that someone might be the victim of drugs exploitation as only with the public’s help can we stop this.

“If you think someone shows sign of mistreatment, or a child seems to travelling long distances or is unfamiliar with the area they are in, then you can report your suspicions to Thames Valley Police on 101 or via our website.

“Engagement with the public is vital as well and we will continue to work together with our communities and partners so that we can protect vulnerable people, bring offenders to justice and make the Thames Valley a safer place.”

“Our positive action is sending a very strong message to criminals – we know from social media that it is welcomed by the law abiding public and that drug dealers and criminals are feeling the pinch. We will be relentless in disrupting criminal gangs and bringing them to justice’.

NOTE TO EDITORS

Further material can be found on our media resource page

You can also find further information on County Lines on our website, and further information on our Stronghold page.