230 arrested in nine-force operation targeting criminals using road networks

More than 200 arrests have been made during a three-day operation involving nine police forces to disrupt County Lines gang activity.

Sep 18, 2020
By Paul Jacques
An officer carries out a search.

The operation targeted gangs using the road network for their criminal activity, with some of those arrested said to be “extremely dangerous”.

In total, 1,065 officers were involved in the effort, which focused on arterial routes and motorways in and around London, including the M25, M11, M4 and the M20.

Automatic numberplate recognition (ANPR) and intelligence was used to target vehicles linked to violent crime.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), Surrey Police, Kent Police, Essex Police, Hertfordshire Constabulary, Thames Valley Police, Hampshire Constabulary, City of London Police and British Transport Police took part in the operation, designed to disrupt County Lines activity and reduce gang, drug and weapons-based violence.


Chief Inspector Jack May Robinson from the MPS Violent Crime Taskforce said: “This three-day operation involved neighbouring forces we continuously work with as part of our day-to-day policing. We’ve built on those relationships to work together and drive down on those using the road network to facilitate their criminal activity.

“Some of the individuals arrested are extremely dangerous, lead criminal life styles and exploit vulnerable people to run drugs and commit crime.

“Due to the need to safeguard those who have been exploited, we resourced a dedicated phone-line of trained officers to give specialist advice to officers to ensure the best care and response possible.”

The operation resulted in:

  • 230 arrests for offences including attempted murder, possession with intent to supply Class A and B drugs, possession of offensive weapons, possession of firearms, assault and possession of criminal property;
  • 22 knives/weapons recovered;
  • 54 vehicles seized;
  • 62 illegal items, such as drugs, seized; and
  • Six warrants executed.


Chief Insp Robinson said this latest activity was part of Operation Pandilla, which is targeting the drivers of violent crime.

He added: “Drugs are inextricably linked to a high proportion of the violence; therefore, we will continue to target those who exploit children to peddle drugs and target the most vulnerable within our communities. We simply can’t do this alone and must work with our partners.”

Chief Insp Robinson said working together and sharing intelligence across force borders would help to make it “as hard as possible” for criminals to run County Lines.

T/Inspector Myles Hilbery, of the City of London Police’s Roads Policing Unit, said it was taking “a zero-tolerance approach” to those involved in County Lines gangs, which facilitate “wider, organised and violent crime”.

“These organised criminal networks exploit children and vulnerable people to help facilitate their crime, and we’re committed to working with our partners to identify people at risk of exploitation and provide them with the support they need,” he added.

“While the country remains in the midst of a pandemic, we’re aware that these types of gangs are still trying to operate, so equally we won’t let up in our efforts to tackle them and the evil they perpetuate.”

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