How many county lines drug routes are operating following Covid-19?

Suffolk Constabulary have seized more than �44,000 worth of drugs in year as part of efforts to tack

Suffolk Constabulary have seized more than �44,000 worth of drugs in year as part of efforts to tackle county lines. File picture: SUFFOLK POLICE - Credit: Archant

Around 14 county line drug supply operations are currently active in west Suffolk, despite activity having been severely reduced during the coronavirus lockdown.

A meeting of West Suffolk Council’s scrutiny committee on Thursday evening heard that between 14 and 25 lines are normally operating, with that number changing on an almost weekly basis, and while the current drug supply lines are at the lower end of that figure the problem was nearly eradicated during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Councillor Margaret Marks said: “At a recent meeting with [Inspector] Kevin Horton he indicated that county lines has been almost non-existent following Covid, and we were really encouraged by that in Haverhill.

“But reading the report it reads as if there are some gangs sitting on the edge of it ready to perhaps become involved in county lines.”

Councillor Joanna Spicer, chairwoman of the Western Suffolk Community Safety Partnership said there were currently an estimated 14 lines in existence.

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She said: “At the beginning of lockdown things did go quiet but my understanding talking to police is they [suppliers] have found other ways to pop up and use other routes trying to infiltrate existing drug supplies in the county.”

County lines are illegal drug supply routes which feature substances being transported over a county border, facilitated by mobile phone lines.

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In west Suffolk, lines from the Midlands and Liverpool have been reported in previous years.

According to data presented to the meeting, in the 12 months to April this year there had been 146 arrests in relation to county lines drug dealing in the west of the county stretching to the edge of Ipswich around Pinewood.

A further 165 searches had been carried out, 97 warrants or disruption visits to properties and drugs worth a minimum of £44,257 had been seized while £23,252 in cash had been recovered.

Chief Inspector Matt Carney said: “We will always take a proactive approach to tackling and disrupting drug dealing to ensure those responsible are bought to justice and convicted.

“Our commitment is demonstrated by the investment in proactive Sentinel teams based across the county who tackle serious and organised criminal activity, much of which is linked to drug trafficking offences. Additionally, with our Serious Crime Disruption Teams, Operation Scorpion teams and locally based officers, we are always on the front foot, taking positive action.

“Tackling drug is a collective issue that will not be solved by enforcement alone and is a complex social problem. It requires action by other partners from education, health and local councils on a range of measures to prevent people in our communities from becoming victims to county lines dealing.

“By effectively utilising the intelligence gathered and our trained professionals we will ensure the county remains a hostile environment for those involved in the supply of drugs.”

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