West Yorkshire Police launches operation to tackle county lines crime (8 Oct 2018)

West Yorkshire Police has launched a week of action to tackle so-called 'County Lines' crime.

'County Lines' crime involves criminal networks involved in bringing in illegal drugs into one or more area(s) using dedicated mobile phone lines.

The criminals 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.

It cuts across many different types of crime including child sexual exploitation, drug dealing, violence, gangs, modern slavery and missing people.

West Yorkshire Police is joining partners in a week of action across West Yorkshire to crack down on the criminal activity from today (Monday 8 October) until Sunday 14 October.

Detective Chief Inspector Carl Galvin is the Director of Intelligence for West Yorkshire Police and is leading the operation:

"'County Lines' crime is something we take very seriously. It is a relatively new term to describe drug dealing activity whereby drugs are supplied across cities and counties often using vulnerable and exploited victims.

"It is a crime that can directly impact on the communities we serve and in particular vulnerable and exploited victims who are being forced or coerced into doing the 'dirty work' of others.

"This is not something that we will tolerate - we know about it and have been taking action to tackle it. Much of this action is 'behind the scenes' so not immediately visible to members of the public or the criminals we are targeting.

"The main purpose of this week of action is to reassure the communities we serve that action is being taken and at the same time safeguard and protect those who are exploited by those involved in these crimes and to let the criminals who choose to get themselves involved in county lines crime know that we will robustly enforce the law and bring them to justice.

"The week will involve a range of activity across West Yorkshire.

"I am also appealing directly to members of the public to know how to spot the signs of this crime so if they have any suspicions they can contact us and help us to build up our intelligence picture. Our proactive work - which we will publicise throughout the week on our website and social media channels will help us to educate people about what 'County Lines' crime involves. Additionally it will help parents and carers in particular to know the signs to help stop children being forces into this crime.

"I want to stress that although members of the public and potential criminals might see a little bit more of us during this week of action it in no way means our work to tackle this heinous crime isn't happening 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."

During the week operations to directly and indirectly target 'County Lines' Crime will include:

Marked police cars will be patrolling across the Force and working with back office colleagues to develop intelligence about county lines activity.

Local activity in all 5 Policing districts coordinated to make west Yorkshire as hostile a place as possible for these criminals to operate in.

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), said: "Disrupting 'County Lines' means helping to safeguard vulnerable people from exploitation and abuse, as well as ultimately reducing the blight of organised crime groups operating in our communities.

"We are potentially now in a better position to tackle this type of criminality. The Modern Slavery Act gives the police and prosecutors more options in going after the gangs behind these destructive activities.

"I have made the use of this legislation, and tackling this type of criminality in general here in West Yorkshire, a priority through my role as the lead PCC on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery by establishing a dedicated West Yorkshire Police Human Trafficking Team back in 2014. In conjunction with partners I have also helped create both a regional and national network where key agencies meet regularly to share best practise, increase communication and information sharing, and bolster support for victims - all key in stopping 'County Lines' from operating.

"I will be fully supporting this week of action, doing all I can with partners to raise awareness of the signs and indicators of these crimes. We need to send a strong message to the people responsible for causing this harm that their exploitation and abuses will not be tolerated."

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2018