Spotting the signs of drugs gangs operating in your area

There has been an urgent call on local communities to play a key role in the fight against drugs gangs. Credit: ITV News Anglia

There has been an urgent call on local communities to play a key role in the fight against drugs gangs.

With our police forces under increasing pressure to combat the threat of county lines drugs operations, one of the solutions could lie in neighbourhoods feeling confident in reporting what's going on.

The Crimestoppers charity is involved in a campaign in the East of England to get people to come forward.

  • Click to watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Malcolm Robertson

The term 'County Lines' refers to criminal gangs from large towns or cities who move into a new area and take control of the local drug trade through violence and intimidation.

They then use a single telephone number, operated from outside the local area, to sell their drugs.

Norfolk alone has seen more than 1,000 arrests for county lines since December 2016 and the number of lines active in the county has nearly halved from around 50 to 27 over the past few years.

County lines are where criminal gangs in large town and cities move to a new area controlling drug supplies through a single telephone number. Credit: ITV News Anglia
  • Click to watch and interview with the Assistant Chief Constable of Norfolk, Nick Davison

"The term County Lines is one that many people are only just becoming familiar with, so our charity is keen to raise awareness so we can prevent vulnerable people from being exploited and help keep our communities safe.

Phil Breckon, Eastern Regional Manager for the charity Crimestoppers
Crimestoppers are urging the public to report suspicious behaviour to the police. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Police say the local community has a vital role to play in helping to identify vulnerable adults and children and gather evidence of illegal drug activity.

The signs to look out for are:

  • Change in behaviour

  • Signs of assault and/or malnutrition

  • Access to numerous phones

  • Use of unusual terms e.g. going country

  • Associating with gangs

  • Unexplained bus/train tickets

  • School truancy/Missing

  • Unexplained gifts (clothes, trainers) and cash

Police have revealed a list of signs that county lines in operating in your area. Credit: ITV News Anglia