Police Operation to Target Drug Dealers on West Yorkshire's Rail Network
Wednesday 29 April, 2020
Police targeting drug dealers using the rail network to move from area carried out an operation last week to target criminal activity.
The operation, on Thursday 23 April, was part of regional work by the Yorkshire and the Humber Regional Crime Team to disrupt criminal use of the rail network together with Bradford City Neighbourhood Policing Team and British Transport Police.
Officers were there to engage with members of the public and educate them about the risks posed – particularly by drug dealers who seek to exploit and prey upon the vulnerabilities of young people and get them to do their ‘dirty work’ – so called ‘county lines’ offences.
They were also there to send a message to criminals using the network that police know what they are doing and are taking action to prevent their illegal activities.
Similar operations have already been carried out across the Yorkshire and the Humber region.
Officers spoke to a number of people to offer advice and support and to ensure that they were not involved in criminality.
Detective Inspector Mark Catney is the County Lines Lead for the Yorkshire and the Humber Regional Crime Unit. He said: “Drug dealers who are looking to move into another area need transport just like everyone else – and that helps us to target their movements.
“The exploitation of children to deal drugs in this way is known as County lines and is a particularly horrible way of committing serious criminal offences.”
“Children and other vulnerable people may be groomed or simply forced through the threats of violence to get involved with hardened criminals who will stop at nothing to exploit their young age and vulnerability.
“Thursday’s operation was as much about giving advice to people about how to spot the signs that their child or other loved one could be forced into the crime and what to do to prevent that from happening.
“It also gave us the opportunity to warn criminals thinking of using the rail network that we know it happens and we will be waiting for them.
“This operation should prove to criminals that they have nowhere to hide and that we take the issue extremely seriously.”
West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Mark Burns-Williamson, said: “This is an excellent example of what can be achieved by collaborative efforts from partner agencies coming together to tackle serious and organised crime.
“It is really important that proactive operational activity to disrupt crime and criminality continues as normal, even throughout the current circumstances with the Coronavirus pandemic.
“We have become increasingly aware of the efforts and lengths that criminals who supply drugs will go to in avoiding arrest and protecting their criminal activity which often involves cruel exploitation of children, young people and vulnerable adults. We have to raise awareness and need individuals in our communities to report any concerns and provide information that will help law enforcement agencies intervene and prevent harm. A good way of doing this is through the Crimestoppers number 0800 555 111 or on-line which is completely free and totally anonymous.
“One of the priorities in my Police and Crime Plan is ‘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 crime activity and we must all work to protect, educate and divert people away from these crime types wherever possible.”
Inspector Richard Baildon of the Bradford City Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “All forms of drug dealing have a terrible impact on the communities of West Yorkshire and operations such as this help to send positive messages to honest, law-abiding citizens and to the criminals looking to trade in drugs.
“Our work to combat the illegal supply of drugs is always ongoing and I would urge anyone with information about illegal drug dealing in their area to let us know – all information helps us to stop drug dealing in the communities of Bradford and beyond.”
BTP Detective Superintendent Gareth Williams said: “This was one of the many operations the BTP County Lines Taskforce carries out nationally, always without warning and always targeting stations and train lines that are used as drug routes by gangs.
“I would like to thank West Yorkshire Police for their assistance in this operation. The help of local police forces has been invaluable since we formed our Taskforce in December 2019. Its aim is to combat the carrying of drugs on the rail network by young people, who are often exploited, and to increase public awareness of County Lines.
“Since December, we have made more than 300 arrests, seized more than £100,000 in illicit cash and removed large numbers of drugs and weapons from the railway.
“The public and railway staff are often our eyes and ears in tackling County Lines. We ask anyone who notices anything suspicious on the railway, such as young person travelling alone at an unusual time, to contact us. Your information could be invaluable in identifying drug routes, and safe guarding people exploited by gangs.
“You can contact us by texting 61016 or by calling 0800 40 50 40.”