County lines drugs gangs operating out of Lincolnshire caravan parks

  • Amelia Beckett learns how county lines gangs are using holiday parks to distribute drugs

Caravan parks in Lincolnshire are being used by county lines gangs to distribute drugs, according to one site owner.

Jen Limb, who runs Littlehaven Park at Chapel St Leonards between Skegness and Mablethorpe, said holiday sites experience extra problems with crime as visitor numbers swell during the summer.

She said: "You get caravan thefts. We've also noticed across the coast an increase in domestic violence and, more seriously, people are using caravans as a way of hiding county lines.

"They're using vulnerable people or children, installing them in caravan parks because it's quite anonymous and then using them to distribute drugs."

County lines is the term used to describe the practice of dealers transporting drugs from one area to another, often across police and local authority boundaries and from larger towns and cities to more rural areas.

Gangs usually recruit children or vulnerable people to ferry the drugs. The "county line" is the mobile phone line used to take the orders of drugs.

Lincolnshire's coast has more than 260 caravan sites with around 36,000 units.

Skegness alone sees its population swell from 20,000 to around 250,000 in the height of summer.

The county's police force has developed specific plans designed to combat crime during the summer, including a Caravan Watch scheme, similar to Neighbourhood Watch.

But Ms Limb said a decision last year to halve the number of police community support officers (PCSOs) employed by Lincolnshire Police was the wrong one.

"[PCSOs] really helped with crime prevention and dealing with crimes as and when they happen," she said.

Lincolnshire Police said it "acknowledged the use of caravans in county line drug dealing".

But Det Insp Daniel McCormack said: "It is not something that is regularly seen and should not put people off coming to Lincolnshire to enjoy themselves.

"We have recently disrupted a county line drug gang operating out of a caravan on the east coast, resulting in the seizure of drugs and cash.

"This has led to a successful prosecution of offenders. We are continually reviewing intelligence around drug activity and take robust action where necessary.

"It is well-known that criminals will regularly seek opportunities to hide and deal drugs in accommodation nationally, and that business model often targets rural and coastal communities."

He said there were "good relations" with Caravan Watch and efforts continued to educate the tourist industry about the signs of county lines dealing.

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