36 arrests made as Cleveland Police take part in a national drive to destroy County Lines
Main article content
In Cleveland our activity during the week included Operation Burford, our biggest operation against County Lines in recent years, where more than 100 officers executed warrants and dozens of arrests were made.
Detective Superintendent John Bent speaks about the activity below.
The Force also carried out many other activities during the intensification week which saw:
36 arrests in total across our Force area including as part of Operation Burford
safeguarding interventions and safety plans in place for 18 vulnerable adults and children
seizure of suspected drugs, cash, drugs paraphernalia and potential weapons
talks to raise awareness around County Lines, reaching more than 2,000 youngsters.
Operation Burford, one of the Force’s biggest County Lines operations in recent years, saw 26 arrests made across the Stockton area.
Men and women aged between 24 and 52 were arrested for a range of offences including arrests on suspicion of Conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, possession of criminal property and possession with intent to supply Class A drugs.
In total, 10 people were charged with alleged drug offences and appeared at Teesside Magistrates Court during the week. The remainder are subject to ongoing Crown Prosecution Service advice.
Drug warrants and proactive patrols
A series of drug warrants and proactive patrols saw 10 arrests made across the Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland areas. Men and women aged between 17 and 60 were arrested on offences including on suspicion of theft and on suspicion of drug offences. They were released under investigation while enquiries continue.
A 42-year-old man was charged with theft in connection with an alleged incident in Stockton on 28 October 2021. He appeared at Teesside Magistrates Court on Wednesday 9 March.
A 33-year-old man was charged with possession with intent to supply a controlled drug of Class B in connection with an alleged incident on Friday 4 March. He appeared at Teesside Magistrates Court on Monday 7 March.
Awareness and engagement
County Lines presentations were delivered to more than 2,000 students at Schools, Colleges and Universities. In addition, webinars, leaflet drops, engagement within the community and visible patrols by Neighbourhood Officers all worked to encourage people to ‘spot the signs’ of County Lines exploitation.
Detective Inspector David Glass from the Complex Exploitation Team said: “Throughout this national week of action, we had a number of objectives in place. Firstly, to bring those involved in the exploitation of young persons and drug supply to justice, to safeguard children and vulnerable adults being exploited and to raise awareness of the signs of County Lines.
“Within Cleveland, we have made 36 arrests and 18 safeguarding interventions as a result of activity.
“I’d like to thank all of the teams and officers involved, as well as partner agencies, including Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, Social Services, Treatment Services and Barnardos who worked with us to achieve these results.
“Everyone within our communities has their part to play too. It is vital that we all work together to safeguard and protect vulnerable children and adults who are at risk of exploitation. I would encourage anyone with concerns to report incidents. This assists with developing the picture and leads to activity shown within Op Burford.
“We will work tirelessly to identify and deal with anyone seeking to exploit others by forcing them into a criminal lifestyle.”
You can report concerns about County Lines to Cleveland Police via the 101 number.
If you don’t want to speak to Police, you can pass information anonymously to independent charity Crimestoppers online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org or by phoning 0800 555 111.