1. ITV Report

Week long 'County lines' crackdown sees dozens of arrests

It's often children who are sent long distances to deal the drugs. Credit: ITV News Anglia

National action to disrupt drug dealing known as 'County lines' has led to more than 200 arrests and safeguarding of 58 vulnerable people.

It came after a week of action which has also seen weapons such as hunting knives, firearms and swords being seized.

Significant amounts of heroin and crack cocaine along with other illegal drugs were also seized.

The crackdown was overseen by the new National County Lines Coordination Centre, led by the National Crime Agency and the National Police Chiefs Council.

Police during a county lines raid. Credit: ITV News Anglia

“Tackling county lines and its consequences is a national law enforcement priority. Supply gangs are responsible for high levels of violence and the exploitation and abuse of vulnerable adults and children, and every territorial police force in England and Wales has now reported some level of county lines activity. While these operations will have substantially disrupted numerous county lines, our work is ongoing and we are pursuing all available means of strengthening the national response."

– Sue Southern, NCA Deputy Director for Commodities and national county lines lead

County lines is the name given to urban drug dealers who expand their dealing into smaller towns and rural areas.

It usually involves the use of a single phone line to communicate with drug users.

There are thought to be approximately 1500 lines in operation in the UK.

A number of warrants were carried out across Hertfordshire and quantities of drugs recovered. Credit: Hertfordshire police

"The public also plays a key role in providing us with information about gang and drug activity and I would urge anyone who believes this type of crime is happening in their neighbourhood to report it to police, as this will help to build our intelligence picture so that we can take action."

– Detective Sergeant Jon Leak, Hertfordshire police

Across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex 65 people were arrested as part of the week long operation, half of those were in Norfolk with 33 arrests. There were 19 in Suffolk and 13 in Essex.

In Bedfordshire there were four arrests and a significant amount of cash and drugs were seized and in Cambridgeshire there were nineteen arrests.

“The information we gathered will help us build an even better picture of county lines in Bedfordshire and pursue those involved in these offences. The results were only possible thanks to the dedication and hard work of our officers and we will all keep working hard in the coming weeks and months to crackdown on county lines.”

– Detective Sergeant Graham Williams, Bedfordshire police