Drug crime up 25% in Colchester over past five years
Drug crime in Colchester has increased by 25% over the past five years against a national drop in offences, according to latest figures.
Statistics revealed there were 375 drug-related offences in Colchester in 2018, up from 298 in 2013.
The rise is believed to be linked to the emergence of 'county lines' and the shift of drug dealing from city centres into smaller towns and villages in the UK.
According to BBC analysis, 30 out of 36 areas in London saw either a decrease or no significant change in recorded drug crime over the past five years.
Drug gangs are believed to be targeting areas within easy commuting distance of their home cities to find less congested markets.
County lines is a term used for organised drug dealing networks which distribute drugs across a county by using young and vulnerable runners.
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Essex Police received an extra £664,000 from the Home Office last year to help tackle drug gangs and violence in the county.
MORE: How London youngsters are groomed to deal drugs in Suffolk and Essex
The force said the increase in recorded offences is due to the amount of work that is being done to target dealers and confiscate their drugs, and it has seen a 15.7% increase in recorded offence of drug trafficking in the rolling 12 months to August 2019.
Operation Raptor was set up by Essex Police in the north, south and west of the county in 2016 to tackle drug and gang-related crime.
In 2018, the north Operation Raptor team made 99 arrests, seized drugs worth £55,790, and seized £37,578 in criminal cash. The team secured prison sentences totalling 42 years, 10 months.
Chief Inspector Rob Huddleston, district commander for Colchester, said: "In Colchester we are utilising a combination of proactive disruption through Raptor and community policing teams (CPT) combined with education and engagement.
"The community safety partnership provides support to vulnerable people and the joint education team work in schools to deliver education to young people.
"We regularly disrupt drug supply and utilise a range of tactics to target criminals."