United Kingdom’s Home Office has reported that thousands more people were arrested and over £2 million cash seized in a nationwide crackdown on organised illegal drug-dealing networks, known as county lines.
Drug gangs continue to be shut down at pace across England and Wales, as new figures on Thursday 9 March demonstrate that since the government launched its County Lines Programme in 2019, police have shut down 3 588 drug lines.
Last week, police forces across the UK arrested an additional 1 658 criminals and seized 31kg of Class A drugs, over £2 million in cash and 404 dangerous weapons.
Crime and Policing Minister Chris Philp said:
County lines gangs run vile, exploitative criminal operations manipulating the most vulnerable to do their dirty work, and tearing families and communities apart in the process.
We cannot and will not stop wiping them out and I am thankful for the tireless police work conducted last week and every week, in ridding our streets of these criminals.
Head of The National County Lines Coordination Centre, Detective Superintendent Neil Ballard said:
This intense week of operational and partnership activity has been incredibly successful in closing 276 deal lines across England, Scotland and Wales. All Forces have worked collaboratively to target the controllers of the County Lines, making 1,658 arrests in one week, and seizing the proceeds of their criminality, including over £2M cash.
County lines exploit children and vulnerable adults and safeguarding has been at the heart of our response, with 78 vulnerable people being referred to support services via the National Referral Mechanism, and Police Forces delivering programmes of engagement within schools and working with partners such as The Children’s Society on the #Lookcloser campaign.
County lines is a criminal business model, evidenced by the full range of drug types seized during this week, but they are also strongly associated with violence as demonstrated by the seizure of over 400 weapons this week, including 288 bladed weapons and firearms such as handguns, shotguns and a silencer.
The policing response to county lines criminality has never been stronger and we will continue targeting this abhorrent threat in our communities to make our streets safer.
County lines target vulnerable members of society including children, women and students.