Police need help to tackle county lines drug crime
PUBLISHED: 12:42 23 September 2020 | UPDATED: 12:42 23 September 2020
Hospitality workers in North Somerset are being urged by the police to be on the lookout for suspicious activities which might involve drug crime.
Avon and Somerset police is urging workers to help combat drug related crime by familiarising themselves with signs of county lines activity.
County lines is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs from large cities, such as London or Manchester, into areas across the country using phones as ‘deal lines’.
Police say county lines drug gangs are using short-term accommodation, holiday lets, B&Bs, and hotels in the South West to exploit young children – sometimes as young as 12; and vulnerable adults to move, store, and sell drugs. Gangs will often use coercion, intimidation, violence and weapons to abuse and exploit their victims.
Force lead for county lines, Detective Chief Inspector Kerry Paterson, said: “The South West is home to thousands of hotels, B&Bs, and other short-term accommodation. We know that some of these premises are being used by county lines drug dealers, not just to abuse and exploit victims, but also to store and sell drugs.
“What we often find is that drug gangs from large cities will use vulnerable people to peddle their drugs in other parts of the country, and they will sometimes place their victims in these types of short-term accommodation.”
There are about 30 county lines in Avon and Somerset, which mostly operate in the outlying market towns; and the area’s police receive around 30 reports of ‘cuckooing’ a month linked to County Lines criminality.
Detective Chief Inspector Patterson, added: “We are committed to tackling county lines, protecting our communities and making our region hostile to county lines dealers.
“We are urging those working in the hospitality industry such as hotel managers, Airbnb owners, cleaners, and letting agencies to familiarise themselves with the signs of county lines and abuse, and to report anything that seems suspicious. By reporting suspicious activity, you could be helping to save a life.”
Call officers on 101, 999 in an emergency; or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
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