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"Greater collaboration and consistency needed to tackle 'county lines' drug offending"

"Greater collaboration and consistency needed to tackle 'county lines' drug offending"

Published by KLFM
6:13am 10th January 2020. (Updated at 3:36pm 10th January 2020)

County lines drug dealing is when criminals exploit children and vulnerable adults to travel across police force and regional borders to distribute drugs and collect the money.

Although the overall understanding of the crime has improved, it's still a major problem for the police.

Figures from last summer show Norfolk has the highest rate of identified drug dealers from London than any other county.

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This report, carried out by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) looked at how county lines drug trafficking is dealt with at local, regional and national levels. 

They concluded that there needs to be a more coherent and integrated system between police forces and the National Crime Agency.

There are calls for restrictions on pay-as-you-go mobiles to help prevent county lines drug gangs.

The police watchdog says criminals are exploiting current rules which allow people to buy the phones anonymously.

The Home Office has announced it's investing twenty million pounds to disrupt county lines activity.

The inspection showed some positive steps since the 'Serious Violence Strategy' report from 2018:

  • Establishing the national county lines co-ordination centre (NCLCC) in 2018
  • Effective use of modern slavery legislation by police forces
  • Good use of 'intensification weeks', where the NCLCC co-ordinates law enforcement activity during dedicated weeks of action against county lines networks
  • Good practice in relation to police bail

There are still some shortcomings:

  • Forces inconsistently identify vulnerable people - but this is improving
  • Forces don't prioritise attention on county lines - police forces are under incredbile pressure to prioritise crimes happening in their own area rather than those happening miles away which is why the criminals controlling the lines aren't usually caught by local enofrcement action
  • Forces could work together more efficiently
  • Joint workig is effective to safeguard vulnerable people but it doesn't always happen
  • Children can be at risk both in and out of school and support drops when people reach 18
  • Information needs to be shared
  • Different definitions cause problems

Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary Phil Gormley said:

"County lines offending is a pressing issue for law enforcement in the UK.  It is a cross-border phenomenon involving criminals working across regions, to deal drugs and exploit vulnerable people.

"To tackle cross-border crime, there needs to be a cross-border response.  Our inspection revealed that policing is currently too fragmented to best tackle county lines offending.  Although we did see many excellent examples of collaboration, we concluded that the current approach does not allow for the level of coherence needed."

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