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Modern slavery legislation used to target drug traffickers during National County Lines Intensification Week

UK forces and the National Crime Agency galvanised their efforts to take part in a national county lines intensification week in October.

The week targeted drug traffickers who recruit children and vulnerable adults to supply drugs across the country. Their tactics included increasing the use of modern slavery legislation to charge line holders, not only for drug supply but also human trafficking offences.

Conditions

This legislation, which can include preventative and restrictive measures, has helped ensure line holders are subject to Court Orders with strict conditions, often for many years after they leave custody.

As a result of the work that has been carried out by the major exporting force areas of Merseyside, West Midlands and the Metropolitan Police, combined with the work of the British Transport Police and the ‘importing forces’, the number of county lines has reduced from 2000 in 2018 to approximately 600 active lines at any one time.

Violence

County lines drug dealing is linked to the most serious violence, demonstrated through the weapons seized across the week, including 12 zombie knives, 22 machetes, four cross bows and eight samurai swords.

A vital reason to tackle county lines is the safeguarding of young children and vulnerable adults, often groomed to run drugs from one city to other parts of the country. Grooming is often followed by extreme violence and coercive behaviour.

Prosecutions

Police can now bring victimless prosecutions for modern slavery offences, just one of the many ways in which officers are protecting young people. Victimless prosecutions ensure children and vulnerable adults are spared the ordeal of having to go through the court process and face the violent and abusive individual responsible for their suffering.

This county lines intensification week was again run in partnership with The Children’s Society and their #LookCloser campaign to spot the signs of exploitation in children and young people.

Results summary

  • 1,468 people were arrested

  • 2,664 vulnerable people, including 2,209 children, were engaged for safeguarding purposes

  • Nearly £2m worth of Class A drugs seized

  • £1,254,384 in cash seized

  • 289 weapons seized, including 49 firearms and 120 knives

  • 139 drug lines were identified and seized

  • 6kg of Crack Cocaine, 28.8kg of Heroin and 26.8kg of Cocaine seized

  • 894 cuckooed addresses visited

 

This county lines intensification week was again run in partnership with The Children’s Society and their #LookCloser campaign to spot the signs of exploitation in children and young people.

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for County Lines, Graham McNulty, said: ‘Nearly £2, 000, 000 worth of Class A drugs and hundreds of weapons are now off our streets thanks to the work of officers up and down the country.’