National County Lines Intensification Week
A county lines crackdown in Bedfordshire has seen a teenager charged with drugs supply offences, two drugs gangs being jailed in the space of a week as well as activity targeted at a railway station.
Last week was National County Lines Intensification Week. Police forces across the country targeted drugs, gangs and exploitation. The operation resulted in 104 people being arrested and a number of weapons and drugs being seized across the eastern region.
In Bedfordshire, officers working to tackle county lines and drug dealing last week charged a 17-year-old boy with possession with intent to supply Class A drugs. He has been remanded into custody, pending a future court appearance.
On Thursday 17 September, Bedfordshire Police officers joined their counterparts from the British Transport Police to target Luton railway station and raise awareness of county lines and the exploitation that comes with it.
Officers engaged with train station staff members around the signs to spot and how to engage with people they feel may be at risk.
This included looking for signs of exploitation, such as young people traveling alone and looking lost, as well as stressing the importance of having a conversation and asking questions of potential victims, as not all exploitation is noticeable.
In Bedfordshire some 25 people have been charged with county lines related offending over the past year.
Detective Chief Inspector Louisa Glynn said:
“We will continue to make Bedfordshire a hostile place for county lines gangs. It is our job to stamp organised crime out and protect vulnerable and young people from being exploited.
“We will continue to work with our partners, including transport providers and businesses, to reduce exploitation, but we would encourage people to be aware of the signs and report anything suspicious.
“As a force it is our priority to pursue those who exploit young and vulnerable people. We work tirelessly to stop county lines running in and out of Bedfordshire, with proactive patrols, intelligence gathering and in-depth investigations.”
County lines typically involves drugs gangs selling their products in other towns using a dedicated phone line. These gangs are often linked to serious violence and intimidation, grooming and exploiting young people to run drug dealing networks across the country.
This includes using public transport networks such as trains and coaches, as well as taxis or private hire vehicles.
On Wednesday (16 September 2020), Bedfordshire Police secured a total of 15 years in jail terms for three men involved in running county drugs lines from Bedford into Cambridge.
The week before, two men from Dunstable were jailed for more than eight years after an investigation led by Hertfordshire Constabulary into a drugs line selling drugs in Hertford and Buckinghamshire, as well as across Bedfordshire.
If you see anything suspicious, please report this information via 101 or through bedfordshire.police.uk/report.
All of this information is fed into police intelligence systems and helps the force build up a picture of organised crime, even if officers do not act on the information straight away.
Alternatively you can report any information anonymously via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111 or through Crimestoppers-uk.org.