From Devon & Cornwall Police:
Devon & Cornwall Police have launched a campaign asking members of the public to help spot the signs of County Lines and report any suspicious activity taking place in their community.
Since the Government restrictions were imposed to stop the spread of Covid-19 (Coronavirus), ‘County Lines’ drug dealers have changed the way they operate.
‘County Lines’ is a term used to describe urban gangs supplying drugs to other parts of the UK via dedicated mobile phone lines. The gangs are likely to exploit children or vulnerable adults to move and store drugs and will often use coercion.
Previously, deal lines were created to take orders for drugs and runners (who are often, young and/or vulnerable people) were used to transport and collect payment. The restrictions on movement has prohibited these methods; however, criminal gangs are now adapting their operations to be able to continue their illegal activity.
Although Devon and Cornwall are two of the safest places in the country to live, police are asking local people to stay alert to spot the signs of County Lines – and report them.
Detective Superintendent Edward Wright from Devon & Cornwall Police said: “When the restrictions were implemented, initially we saw a decrease in drug dealing; however, we know the gangs and County Lines suppliers are still operating – they are just changing their methods to get around the restrictions.
“We already know a lot about their activities and how they have changed their operations but we always want to know more and help from the public is invaluable. Therefore, we are asking members of the public to tell us if they have seen anything suspicious or have concerns about people within their community.
“Devon and Cornwall are two of the safest places in the country to live. Any information from the public will help us further restrict and disrupt the deal lines, prosecute those organising the activity, safeguard vulnerable victims caught up in the networks and continue to keep our communities safe.
“So if you see anything suspicious in your neighbourhood, such as unknown characters or lots of comings and goings from houses, then please report this using our online contact channels: dc.police.uk/contact. Alternatively, you can call CrimeStoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or report online: crimestoppers-uk.org.”
Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Alison Hernandez said: “Taking drugs off our street is a priority for all of us. The force is proactive in capturing ‘County Lines’ gangs and over 400 years of jail-time handed down to those that have been caught.
“This proactive work is one of the reasons the Devon and Cornwall area was recently recognised as the second-lowest recorded crime area in the country.
“Let’s stamp out the crimes that are happening in our communities by spotting and reporting them so they can be tackled.
“You can also report anonymously via Crimestoppers.
“Let’s save more of our young people and those who are vulnerable by stepping up and not tolerating drug dealing in our communities any longer.”
Police operations to disrupt ‘County Lines’ activity have been running for several years and regularly lead to the prosecution of criminal gangs. In response to these operations, Devon & Cornwall Police have carried out 194 ‘disruptions’ in the past year against ‘County Lines’ groups. This has resulted in the conviction of 21 people (who received sentences totalling over 24 years imprisonment) and the safeguarding of over 250 vulnerable children and adults.”
For more information about ‘County Lines’ supply and what to look out for, please visit our website – dc.police.uk