County Lines Week sees 18 people arrested and drugs and weapons seized
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Cleveland Police seized nearly £15,000 worth of drugs, many weapons, hundreds of pounds worth of cash and arrested 18 people during a week of action to tackle county lines.
County Lines Intensification week, which commenced on Monday 9th October to Sunday 15th October, saw officers from each district in Cleveland join police forces across the country in the week of action.
Six air rifles, a pistol, baton, four machetes and a flick knife were amongst the weapons seized, as well as over £11,000 worth of crack cocaine.
In addition to this, officers from the Force and partner agencies also participated in the following:
A number of drugs warrants across Redcar and Cleveland, Hartlepool, Stockton and Middlesbrough.
School Liaison Officers visited schools across Teesside School to provide inputs to children of all ages around the topic of County Lines.
The Force provided funds for three webinar sessions from Barnardo’s to raise awareness about county lines offending, spotting the signs and reporting streams. This included an input from two males with lived experience. These webinars were advertised with North-East Forces.
The Force, Middlesbrough Council and those working in the nighttime economy attended a Children’s Society event at Middlesbrough College where they presented their #LookCloser campaign. This was to raise awareness around what county lines offending involves and how those working in the nighttime economy can spot the signs. It also provided people with an opportunity to agree to assist each other with sharing intelligence when a vulnerable person may be identified.
Officers and PCSOs from Neighbourhood Teams distributed #LookCloser leaflets and cards to residential properties and businesses.
The North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU) worked with the Force and arrested five people on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs – they were bailed pending further enquiries. They also seized several weapons.
Speaking of the week of action, Detective Chief Inspector Gez Wraith said: “County Lines Intensification Week aims to protect vulnerable people from exploitation and tackle the supply of illegal substances.
“The results have been successful thanks to a team effort from the Force and our colleagues from partner agencies; resulting in removing illegal drugs and weapons from our communities and engaging with and safeguarding a number of people.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved in this week of action as it requires a lot of hard work and dedication.
“We will continue to work tirelessly to tackle county lines and would urge anyone who believes someone is being exploited in their neighbourhood or anyone who may have concerns, to contact the police on 101. Alternatively, you can pass information anonymously to independent charity Crimestoppers online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org or by phoning 0800 555 111”.
NEROCU County Lines Co-Ordinator Ian Randell, said: “This latest intensification week has delivered more great results, but we want to reassure the region that our commitment to taking action doesn’t end here. Our work tackling County Lines happens year-round, with dedicated teams building intelligence, shutting down deal lines, arresting suspects and protecting those being exploited.
“Under the banner of Operation Sentinel, our dedicated regional initiative to tackling serious and organised crime, we will continue to work with partners and pursue offenders, shut down their lines, and work with young people and those who have been impacted by this abhorrent crime.”
James Simmonds-Read, National Programme Manager at The Children’s Society, said: "Making sure that police forces and other experts can detect the signs of exploitation in young people is vital. These signals can be subtle so it's encouraging to see that more young victims can now get the help they urgently need. Our #LookCloser campaign, bolstered by the support of Cleveland Police is pivotal in raising awareness of these issues.
"As the nights draw darker, we urge members of the public and businesses to stay vigilant. Spotting signs of child exploitation, especially in settings such as fast food joints, taxis and hotels is crucial. Any young person can be targeted, anywhere, but these places are often used to target, move, and abuse young people."