Update On County Lines Activity

Update On County Lines Activity

You may have seen a recent news story about drug gangs operating away from cities and in more rural areas instead. This is part of the county lines activity that we take very seriously and are working hard with other agencies to address. The story suggested that this issue was affecting the small village of Westhumble in Mole Valley where drug offences have gone up from nine cases in 2015 to 42 in 2018.

But that is not the case.

None of the 42 offences in 2018 happened in the village and actually relate to a much wider area than Westhumble itself. All the offences in 2018 were for cannabis possession, not supply, and most relate to a nearby beauty spot car park where, for a time, people were going to use cannabis. This issue was addressed by proactive policing operations with 31 cannabis warnings issued. It is not gang related.

To give you even wider context, in the whole of Mole Valley in 2018 there were 241 drug possession offences and 42 drug trafficking offences identified. The increase in drug offences recorded is partly down to proactive policing operations and the majority relate to possession rather than supply.

County lines activity, which involves organised crime groups bringing drugs into more rural areas to sell is a national issue. In Surrey we employ a number of tactics to reduce drug related harm and disrupt this activity including covert tactics, proactive patrols at train stations, drugs dogs and patrols on major routes in and out of the county. We also work with local schools and partner agencies to break the cycle of criminality.

We know gangs often groom, threaten or trick children into ‘running’ their drugs for them. They may lure them initially by offering something in return – it could be money, food, alcohol, clothes and jewellery, or improved status – but the giving of these gifts will usually be manipulated so that the child feels they are in debt to their exploiter. We work with parents and professionals to help them to spot the signs of exploitation and prevent harm at the earliest opportunity.

If you are concerned about drug use or drug dealing in your area, contact us on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. In an emergency, always dial 999.

What are the signs of potential drug dealing?

  • Lots of visitors, who don’t stay very long, arriving at all times of the day and night;
  • People waiting in cars outside particular properties exchanging small packets or cash;
  • Lots of visitors bringing items such as TV's or bikes but leaving empty handed;
  • Lone/vulnerable neighbours suddenly having groups of young men living at their address.
What we want to know:

  • Time, date and place;
  • Vehicle registrations and the make, model and colour;
  • Descriptions of people and details of what they were doing;
  • Direction they travelling to and from;
  • How many times you have seen them – is it always at the same time of day?
Don’t put yourself at risk while gathering this information. Please always pass the information to the police and do not confront or approach suspected drug dealers.

~Jim Pusey (Corporate Communications Officer, Surrey Police)

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