|Lancashire Police’s West Division have generated significant results after taking part in the national County Lines Intensification Week.
West Division, which covers the areas of Blackpool, Fylde, Wyre, Lancaster and Morecambe, took part in a range of both targeted and preventative activity to raise awareness and prevent the dangers of County Lines.
County Lines is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs, using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of ‘deal line’. County Lines gangs are highly associated with violence, drug dealing and exploitation, having a devastating impact on young people, vulnerable adults, and local communities.
The following was carried out over the week in West Division;
8x warrants were conducted
15x people were safeguarded
30x people were arrested
A quantity of drugs was seized, including heroin, crack cocaine and cannabis
Cash totalling £14,393 was seized
1x weapon and 1x imitation firearm were seized
10x phones were seized
Chief Superintendent Karen Edwards, Divisional Commander of West Division said: “We are working harder than ever to crack down on County Lines criminals who bring drug dealing and violence into our communities. We must do everything within our power to tackle, disrupt and dismantle the groups who want to bring Class A drugs into the towns and streets where we live.
“As well as targeted activity, officers and staff took part in several protection and prevention activities.
“31 addresses, believed to be involved in cuckooing, were visited and relevant safeguarding was put in place. Cuckooing is a term in which the home of a vulnerable person is taken over by a criminal to deal, store or take drugs from.
“Op Lighthouse took place in both Fylde and Fleetwood and is a joint initiative between police and their exploitation teams, Community Partnership teams, Lancashire Children’s Social Care, Lancashire Contextual Health Team and Targeted Youth. The non-enforcement operation promotes the safeguarding of young people on the streets or public areas who may be classed as vulnerable or at risk of significant harm.
“Dedicated exploitation teams ran outreach sessions whereby a police officer and a social worker visit a young person or a premise, which is highlighted as vulnerable, outside of normal working hours. This multi-agency approach allows a specialist worker to engage directly with young people, who are potentially at risk, and work to raise awareness and understanding in relation to exploitation.
“A knife arch was also put up in eight train stations across the division and high schools and children’s homes were visited to talk about the dangers of county lines and how to spot the signs.
“County Lines is a significant threat, both nationally and locally within Lancashire. These organised criminal gangs’ prey on the vulnerable, including children, and exploit them at will, often leaving their victims with devastating long-term consequences.
“These arrests are a message to those who would consider engaging in these activities in Lancashire. My team will continue to relentlessly pursue those responsible and we will continue to develop operations of this type and you can expect to see further arrests of county lines criminals in the future.
“I want to thank the partner agencies that we worked with during this week such as Blackpool Council, Lancashire Fire and Rescue, Social Care, and Health and Safety, to name a few.
For more information and how to spot the signs of exploitation, visit County Lines – Spot The Signs | Eyes Open (eyes-open.co.uk)
If you believe that someone may be involved in County Lines or other drugs activity, you can report it to us by calling 101. Alternatively, you can report it via the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or report your concerns anonymously online at Crimestoppers-uk-org. If you think someone is in immediate danger, call 999.