A CRACKDOWN on drug gangs has been launched in Warwickshire.
Warwickshire Police’s Operation Reduce is a response to a local increase in county lines crime – when gangs transport drugs from bigger cities into smaller towns.
City dealers may challenge an existing group in the local area in order to take over the local market, which can cause an increase in violent incidents.
The groups regularly travel between urban and rural locations to collect drugs and deliver cash – often taking over properties as a base for their activities by force or coercion and referred to as ‘cuckooing’.
Sometimes children and vulnerable adults are exploited to move and store drugs and money using coercion, intimidation, and, in some cases, violence.
County lines can also lead to gang disputes and serious injury.
Launched earlier this month, Project Reduce will see police work together with the wider community and partner agencies in a bid to decrease the impact of county lines in south Warwickshire.
Officers will gather intelligence, patrol hotspot areas, carry out warrants, provide reassurance and target individuals known to be involved in county lines. They will also seek to educate people about the dangers of county lines as well as the wider issues it brings.
The project also aims to ensure children and vulnerable individuals exploited as part of the county lines model are safeguarded while engaging with the community and encouraging them to report any suspicious activity.
Detective Chief Inspector Neil Reader said: “Reducing county lines drug dealing remains a priority for our force.
“With Project Reduce we are looking to be robust in tackling, disrupting and dismantling county lines drug supply activities.
“Not only will we continue to work with our partners to pursue and prosecute those who bring drugs into our county, commit violence and exploit vulnerable members of our communities but also we will carry out thorough investigations and ensure those who are involved are brought to justice.
“Residents will see an increase in activity from our team as we look to reduce county lines, arrest offenders and work with partners to reassure and support anyone affected by these kind of incidents.
“We would encourage anyone with suspicions that a property is being used to sell drugs from, or that a young and/or vulnerable individual may be getting involved with county lines drug dealing to get in touch.
“Equally if something doesn’t look quite right or you see someone acting suspiciously, you can play your part in keeping our streets free from drugs by contacting the police online, by calling 101 or via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if you wish to remain anonymous.
“We appreciate it’s not always easy to come forward but we all have a duty to keep our communities and our streets safe and we’re asking everyone to play their part in our ongoing bid to drive down the levels of county lines across south Warwickshire.”