Between 9 October and 15 October, West Mercia Police took part in County Lines Intensification Week – a national week of action to target county lines drug gangs.

During the week, we seized drugs with an estimated street value of more than £319K, as well as 9 vehicles, 27 weapons, 73 phones and more than £16K in cash. Our enforcement activity directly resulted in the closure of four county lines, and as a result we have taken dangerous people, weapons, and drugs off our streets.

This work is part of Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion’s commitment to build a safer West Mercia, as set out in his Safer West Mercia Plan, to drive down crime and continue to disrupt county lines beyond this specific week of action.

To watch a video roundup of the work from the week, please click here.

Education and early intervention are vital in preventing exploitation and protecting our communities from county lines drug dealers and gangs. Our officers made themselves present in our local communities to provide visible reassurance and engagement around the issues and warning signs of county lines.

County lines drug dealers often exploit children and young people, recruiting them to deal drugs on their behalf. Once recruited into county lines it can be difficult for those being exploited to leave, with fear and intimidation used to keep them in place. Vulnerable adults, such as those dependent on drug use, will also be targeted and their property taken over by drug dealers in a local area, a practice known as cuckooing.

To help tackle this, we carried out safeguarding work to protect vulnerable people and children from being exploited by county lines gangs. We visited schools, universities, and sports clubs to make them aware of the warning signs of county lines, and highlighted the ways they can report these signs if they see them. Our teams visited 127 properties on cuckooing visits and safeguarded 46 people because of our intensified approach.

Detective Chief Inspector Ian Wall said: “We are obviously pleased that we have arrested 68 people involved in county lines drug dealing and that we have closed 4 lines and seized drugs to the value of £319K. But we have also placed a real focus on safeguarding those impacted by county lines drug dealing. Whether that be young and vulnerable people being criminally exploited or those impacted by the wider damage caused by drugs in our communities. Positive action by West Mercia Police and our partners has led to a significant number of young and vulnerable people being diverted away from becoming further involved with county lines offending.

‚ÄúSerious and Organised Crime and County Lines drug dealing remains a priority for West Mercia Police. We will work tirelessly to make sure our communities are unwelcoming for criminals travelling across our policing borders. We will continue to prioritise the pursuit and prosecution of those who bring drugs into our counties, commit violence, and exploit vulnerable members of our communities.‚ÄĚ

Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said: “I regularly hear about the negative impacts caused on our streets caused by serious drug offences and I am committed to making a difference.

“I will continue to invest in West Mercia Police with the resources and tools it needs to continue to succeed in its operations and bring criminals to justice.

‚ÄúThe achievements made during the County Lines Intensification week shine a spotlight on the dedicated serving officers across West Mercia. 

‚ÄúI will continue to support West Mercia Police to ensure it delivers on my Safer West Mercia Plan and your policing priorities.‚ÄĚ

Anyone with suspicions that a property is being used to sell drugs, or that a young and vulnerable individual may be getting involved with county lines drug dealing can report this via our website here, or information can be given anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

More information about the warning signs of county lines can be found here.

County Lines Intensification Week forms part of our cross-border initiative, Operation Target. Operation Target sees us work closely with other forces and our partners to tackle serious and organised crime and the harm it causes. The broad-ranging campaign comprises four key areas of activity:

  • Pursue – prosecuting and disrupting those involved in SOC
  • Prevent – stopping individuals from becoming involved in SOC
  • Protect – increased levels of protection against SOC
  • Prepare – reducing the impact of SOC where it occurs

Find out more about Operation Target by following #OpTarget on social media.