New policing strategy unveiled to disrupt County Lines

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the National County Lines Coordination Centre (NCLCC) have launched a Disrupting County Lines Policing Strategy designed to break the model used by criminal gangs.

Jul 9, 2024
By Paul Jacques

The three-year strategy, published on Tuesday (July 9), aims to:

  • Prevent people engaging in County Lines, and the associated violence and exploitation;
  • Proactively safeguard children and vulnerable adults from harm;
  • Better prepare communities by building resilience against the harms of County Lines; and
  • Relentlessly pursue offenders, including organised criminal groups, urban street gangs and individuals running County Lines.

Building on the success since the launch of the Home Office County Lines programme in 2019, the NPCC has seen:

  • 5,627 County Lines closed down;
  • 16,536 people arrested; and
  • 8,817 individuals referred by police to safeguarding.

The NPCC says there are now fewer County Lines coming from ‘exporter forces’ and fewer children involved in County Lines from those areas.

A NCLCC ‘power app’ for law enforcement has also been launched, providing a central resource for County Lines knowledge and practitioner guidance.

The latest County Lines Intensification Week, coordinated by the NPCC and led by NCLCC in March 2024, saw more than 1,800 arrests, in excess of £2.5 million worth of Class A and Class B drugs seized, 660 weapons seized, which included 96 firearms and 466 bladed weapons, as well as £1.8 million in cash seized.

In addition more than 1,600 people were actively safeguarded, with police forces working with relevant services and charities to help safeguard children and vulnerable adults, using a variety of options available to them, including specialist support referrals, strategy meetings, safety plans created and modern slavery crime reports.

“This relentless and robust action to bring down County Lines gangs is part of policing’s strategic objective in breaking the model used by the organised criminals and protecting vulnerable people who are being exploited by them,” said the NPCC.

Commander Paul Brogden, NPCC lead for County Lines, said: “Significant advancements have been achieved in tackling the problem of County Lines and the criminal networks operating in England, Scotland and Wales.

“Our highly successful County Lines programme, coordinated by the NCLCC, has built strong collaborations across police forces resulting in significant numbers of arrests and charges, County Line closures, large quantities of drugs seized, weapons including knives and firearms recovered, and the disruption and dismantling of organised criminal groups.

“Importantly we have also seen welcomed improvements in the numbers of children safeguarded together with less younger children been drawn into this coercive criminal business model.

“We know the County Lines drugs supply business model continues to exploit children and vulnerable adults, so we must continue working across the country to effectively tackle this cross-border crime.

“County Lines drug dealing destroys lives, and we are committed to stopping the supply of illegal drugs, and the exploitation and violence that is frequently associated with it.

“Our message is clear to anyone running county lines across the country; we will be relentless in our pursuit of you, we will shut down your county lines, we will take drugs off our streets and we will rescue those who are being exploited by you.”

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