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Surrey Police marked County Lines Intensification Week (3-9 October) by targeting and disrupting violent county lines gangs and engaging with those most vulnerable to exploitation by these criminals.
The intensification week, which is run nationally, aims to make life as difficult as possible for members of county line gangs, who often use violence and intimidation to exploit children and the vulnerable and to force them to store and ‘run’ drugs for them.
Over the week, officers focused on visiting local communities to raise awareness of the signs of exploitation and what to do if you think a loved one is at risk. They carried out 31 cuckooing prevention visits, safeguarded 40 vulnerable adults, engaged with over 460 people at local community events, and completed almost 120 prevention and education visits at secondary schools, taxi firms, leisure centres and youth groups.
A total of 11 people were also arrested for various drugs offences, 76 people were proactively stopped and searched, over 250 wraps of heroin and crack cocaine were seized, and more than £2000 in cash and assets were confiscated.
This latest activity was carried out by the neighbourhood and proactive teams and is on top of the 119 county lines that Centurion, our dedicated county lines team, have successfully shut down since their creation in September 2020. This works out at just over one drugs line being closed per week.
DCI Debbie White said: “County lines gangs can cause untold misery to their victims as they often utilise violence (including sexual violence), and intimidation to exploit the most vulnerable in our society.
“Working closely with our partners in neighbouring forces and the South East Regional Crime Unit (SEROCU), we have become very effective at using intelligence to identify and target those who may be involved in this criminal activity and bringing them to justice.
“Your information is vital in allowing us to keep on closing down these drug lines, so if you have any information regarding drug dealing or violent crime in your area, or you are worried that someone is being exploited, we need you to tell us. If you’d rather not speak to police, please reach out to the anonymous and fully independent charity Crimestoppers. Together we can stop the flow of drugs into our county.”
Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey Lisa Townsend said: “Driving county lines gangs out of Surrey remains a key priority for me as your Commissioner and this kind of targeted police action is vital in helping take dangerous people and drugs off our streets.
“These networks are ruthless and actively groom young and vulnerable people in our communities to act as drug couriers or dealers. It is so important we all work together to prevent them falling into the clutches of these gangs.
“That is why I would ask everyone to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police so they can take immediate action and disrupt this criminal activity in our county.”