In May, just after I became the Police and Crime Commissioner, we started how I wish us to continue, with Dorset Police carrying out a week of intense activity designed to target and disrupt those involved in County Lines. County Lines is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more importing areas within the UK, using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of ‘deal line’.
14 people were arrested, more than £40,000 worth of drugs and £7,100 in cash was seized from suspected dealers. Officers also seized approximately 146 grams of suspected crack cocaine and 90 grams of suspected heroin with an estimated value of £23,600. Stolen bikes valued at £12,000 were also recovered. This was definitely a good result.
The Force also carried out welfare checks in order to protect vulnerable people who become snared into the work of these criminal gangs. The gangs are likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults to move and store the drugs and money and they will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) and weapons.
I not only want to praise the hard work of the officers and staff involved in the week of activity, which saw such success, I’d also like to reassure residents that countering the threat posed to our communities by county lines gangs is an ongoing effort and one that is reflected in my Police and Crime Plan for Dorset.
There are two priorities in my plan, which will focus the work of the Force in this area, the first is to Fight Violent Crime and High Harm and the second, is to put Victims and Communities First. These priorities have been formed during the three years I spent talking with the people of Dorset about what matters to them, whilst campaigning to become PCC. I know how concerned residents are about the effects of drug misuse in our society and I know too that they want to see a difference in Dorset, with more enforcement, more arrests and more help for those who through no fault of their own become involved in County Lines gangs and I intend to deliver on those priorities.
I am intent on working very closely with Dorset Police, as well as a wide range of partners including both our local authorities, to make sure these gangs find it as difficult as possible to operate anywhere in our county. I want them to understand that Dorset is not a good place to ply their toxic trade.
If you would like to take part in my Police and Crime Plan Survey and tell me what you want us to prioritise over the next few years, please do take a couple of minutes and complete the survey at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/PCPDA
If you think someone is being exploited by county lines gangs, call police on 101 or the free and anonymous Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111.
Further information on county lines can be found at dorset.police.uk/countylines