82 children rescued from the clutches of drug gangs and over 20 criminal networks smashed
A police crackdown has resulted in over 20 County Lines drugs networks being shut down and rescued 82 children from the clutches of ruthless drug dealers.
Since last November detectives carried out 88 safeguarding interventions to protect vulnerable youngsters from the grip of criminals. A huge stash of weapons including knifes, machetes and various firearms were also recovered and almost 200 drugs related arrests made according to police.
County Lines crime sees drug gangs exploit and coerce vulnerable people, often children, to carry and sell illegal drugs from one area of the UK to another, usually across police and local authority boundaries.
The children involved in County Lines activity are constantly placed at risk and are exploited by gangs. Some of the children are kept in properties which are used as safe houses by drug gangs.
In April a County Lines taskforce took down 12 County Lines and arrested 22 people involved in drugs and gang crime.
Chief Inspector Ronan Tyrer, from the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit, said: “County Lines gangs are a poison in our communities; we will be relentless in ridding them from our streets and, crucially, protecting vulnerable victims.”
Another intervention came in March after police officers conducted a drugs warrant in the Lea Hall area of Birmingham.
Detectives found a 17-year-old boy at an address that was being targeted by County Lines criminals as a potential drugs den.
The teenager was referred to Birmingham Police’s ‘Exploitation Hub’ where police officers work with the local authority, children’s services, charities and support groups.
The rescued boy has received mentoring, been enrolled on the Prince’s Trust programme to boost self-confidence and team bonding skills, and detectives are working with housing to try and secure a house move.
Police stated that intervention and support for these vulnerable children rescued from County Lines crime provides “safeguarding” which includes “care and support designed to divert them away from crime and to brighter futures”.