A national week of police action has seen 98 people arrested in association with county lines drug dealing.

The County Lines Intensification Week, coordinated by the NPCC-led National County Lines Coordination Centre (NCLCC), from October 9 to 15, focused on disrupting those who the police say look to exploit communities by carrying out drug offences and exploiting the vulnerable.

A number of warrants took place across Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire, which contributed to the force’s ongoing Stronghold campaign, to work in partnership to tackle serious organised crime and exploitation.

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County lines drug dealing is where organised crime groups (OCGs) use phone lines to move and supply drugs, usually from cities into smaller towns and rural areas. This type of offending often exploits children and vulnerable people who may have addiction or mental health issues.

Victims are often exploited by OCGs who groom, coerce and often use intimidation and violence in order to supply drugs to others.

During this week of action Thames Valley Police has arrested 98 people, charged more than 40 people, safeguarded 30 people, visited 40 addresses that have been taken over by a county line and seized over 1,200 wraps of cocaine, heroin and crack cocaine.

In addition to this the forces have seized at least 1,100 cannabis plants and a number of weapons, including a baseball bat, machetes and an array of hunting, flick, Rambo kitchen knives.

Further, £67,000 in cash has been seized along with approximately 121 mobile phones.

Detective Chief Inspector Lee Newman-West of Thames Valley Police, said: “We are working harder than ever to crack down on county lines, which bring misery to communities in the form of drug dealing and violence.

“There is a county lines lead in all 43 police forces, working to identify new ways to crack down on this abhorrent crime.

"The technical abilities available to us, and knowledge that has been gathered in previous weeks of action, mean county lines are no longer a low risk and high reward enterprise.

“We are dedicated to bringing those responsible for violence and exploitation to justice. We will use all avenues available to us, including increased use of Modern Slavery legislation to target line holders.

“County lines have adapted their approaches after relentless pressure from police forces on their illegal activities by targeting the vulnerable in different areas of the country to run drugs for them.

"We will continue to adapt our approaches to shut down the lines and target line holders in equal parts as safeguarding victims.”

James Simmonds-Read, National Programme Manager at The Children’s Society, said: “Criminals groom young people in person or online and use terrifying threats and violence to force them into crimes such as carrying drugs and fraud or exploiting them sexually.”


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1