Police leaders are vowing to crackdown on drugs gangs in the North East as substance misuse has been recorded as the highest in the UK for the seventh year running.
The data, from the Office of National Statistics, revealed there were more than 250 drug-related deaths in the region between October 2019 and April 2022.
It's led Northumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Kim McGuiness, to pledge a continued fight against 'county lines' drugs gangs plaguing the area.
What is county lines?
'County Lines' is a term used to describe gangs and criminal networks moving drug from one area to another, often exploiting children and vulnerable adults in the process.
The 'line' refers to a dedicated phone number used to take people's orders of drugs.
In the last 12 months, the forces have completed 82 arrest warrants and 307 arrests, seizing nearly £280,000 in cash.
As part of Operation Hercules, police seized 50kg of cocaine and 30kg crystal meth earlier this year. The haul had an estimated street value of £11m.
The Northumbria PCC also stressed the importance of education and outreach work to direct the most vulnerable away from crime.
She's committed to work with organisations to re-establish drug treatment options which have been cut back in recent years.
To date, 20,000 young people have had drugs education over 200 sessions in efforts to stop them dealing or consuming drugs.
Going forward, Mrs McGuinness says a drugs partnership will be established across local authorities to clamp down on the problem using new money from government.
She continued: "I make no apologies for saying this in the harshest possible terms, making sure those who bring drugs into our area and are involved in serious and organised crime will absolutely get the full weight of that law thrown at them.
"For everything for the drugs offences, the exploitation, for the weapons and all the rest of it."
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