Drugs, cash and weapons were seized in crackdown on county lines crime (18 Oct 2019)

Drugs, cash and weapons were seized during a week-long crackdown on county lines crime.

Officers from across the Force took part in a week of action - part of a national intensification campaign - to combat the crime which sees groups or gangs using children or vulnerable adults to carry and sell drugs from one area to another.

It took place during the week starting Monday 7 October.

This was organised under Programme Precision - the Force's joint response with partners and the public to tackle serious and organised crime.

Enforcement activity was carried out across the Force area with 33 people arrested (32 men and a woman) class a drugs (crack and MDMA) and cannabis seized, nearly £18,000 confiscated and a number of potential weapons including air powered pistols, a starting pistol samurai swords, a machete and other knives.

Officers spoke to four juveniles and three adults potentially at risk of being used in county lines crime, identified a further six potentially vulnerable adults, made four referrals to the National Referral Mechanism and visited seven addresses where it was thought 'cuckooing' might have been taking place.*

Force Drugs Co-ordinator, Jess Clayton, said: "As a Force we have carried out a great deal of enforcement activity and enforcement work to safeguard vulnerable people.

"We have also carried out a lot of education activity, delivering 75 inputs reaching approximately 11,700 people, handed out leaflets outlining the key aspects of county lines crime in 65 areas and had an ad-van out covering every single district in West Yorkshire.

"This shows just how seriously we treat the issue.

"We have also released a checklist of signs for parents / carers of vulnerable people to look out for to help prevent county lines crime from happening.

By looking out for potential warning signs, parents / carers and guardians can help protect their children from those who want to take advantage of them for criminal gain.

"We are doing what we can to bring those criminals to justice but by watching out for a few key warning signs you can help protect loved ones from criminals.

"There are five key warning signs to look out for. In isolation each point may be attributed to 'typical adolescent' behaviour but if taken together they could point towards something more sinister.

  • Does your child have items of clothing, have mobile phones and/or money that they cannot explain how they came by?
  • Are they going missing and being found in locations far from home?
  • Are they making friends with older individuals and calling them by a nickname?
  • Are they pushing away from their peers and changing interests?
  • Has there been a change in behaviour - for example saying "others have their back" and are they being secretive?

"This list is not an exhaustive checklist but gives some examples of what parents/guardians and / or carers of potentially vulnerable adults can look out for to help safeguard their loved one."

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), said: "One of the priorities in my police and crime plan is tackling major threats and serious violence which includes organised crime, serious violence and the use of weapons such as knives and guns.

"These are often elements of county lines style criminal activity and we must all work to protect, educate and divert particularly young people away from being caught up in these crime types.

"We are becoming increasingly aware of the efforts and lengths that criminals who supply drugs will go to in avoiding arrest and protecting their criminal activity, including the cruel exploitation of children, young people and vulnerable adults.

"We have to raise awareness of these damaging crimes and need individuals in our communities to report their concerns and provide the intelligence that will help law enforcement and other agencies intervene and prevent further harm."

*Cuckooing is a form of crime in which drug dealers take over the home of a vulnerable person in order to use it as a base for drug dealing.

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019