Successful week of action held to tackle county lines crime (16 Oct 2018)

Weapons, cash and illegal drugs were seized during a force-wide week of action to tackle County Lines Crime.

Officers also safeguarded 22 potential victims and made 16 arrests during the operation, which ran all week from Monday 8 October.

It was held to stop criminal networks bringing in illegal drugs into one or more area(s) using dedicated mobile phones.

The criminals involved will often use and exploit young children and vulnerable adults to commit the crime and will use violence (and sexual violence) and weapons to get what they want.

DCI Carl Galvin - Director of Intelligence for West Yorkshire Police - led the operation:

"I am very pleased how the operation went. It was carried out across the Force and we had some significant results.

"County Lines crime is something we are aware of and have been taking action to combat for some time. Much of it, however, has been covert work.

"During the week of action people might have seen a little bit more of us out and about but our work to tackle this crime is always on going."

As well as targeting those involved in County Lines Crime, the Force also sees educating potential victims as important to preventing the crime.

Vulnerable victims are often caught up in the crime as drug-dealers look to exploit children or others and get them to "do their dirty work."

DCI Galvin added:

"What is often forgotten when we talk about county lines crime is that there are victims at the centre of it. Hardened criminals are using children or other vulnerable people to do their illegal work.

"The criminal exploitation takes many forms - the most common being criminals targeting the children who may be after 'easy' money, is willing to co-operate and who may be keen to find a place where they 'fit in' as they grow and develop their own identity.

"Once the children 'are in' they are intimidated with threats of violence against them and their loved ones. In short they feel 'trapped'

"I am particularly pleased, therefore, that we directly safeguarded a number of vulnerable people through our enforcement work (all adults) and delivered resources in schools to warn children and those working with them, of the potential dangers of county lines involvement.

"We looked to use the week of action as way to publicise our work and to make sure people know how to spot the signs of the crime.

"By knowing about county lines crime parents and carers can increase their chances of stopping their child or loved one being taken advantage of by criminals. Follow the #trapped campaign on social media for more information

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Mark Burns-Williamson added:

"It is encouraging to see that the week of action has produced such positive results and has reduced the harm to potential victims and is very timely given the focus around tackling organised crime groups and their impact within our communities.

"There are also often links between criminal networks and Modern Day Slavery, which is a subject that I continue to raise on both on a local and national level, ensuring the relevant legislation is enforced where appropriate.

"I am keen to see that any victim identified from such activity is 'flagged' for their vulnerability and that they have the necessary support behind them.

"I will continue to back the police in these operations, which target those who are prepared to exploit people across our communities which just isn't acceptable."

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2018