The persistence of “county lines” drug dealers means that some police forces don’t have the resources they need to tackle the networks operating in their communities.
The growth in the exploitative trade that sees structured gangs moving drugs out of urban areas to smaller towns or villages has reached the point where there are an estimated 2, 06 identifiable lines in the country.
The seaside towns of Morecambe and Blackpool in Lancashire have both seen drug gangs repeatedly targeted their communities by commandeering properties and finding young vulnerable couriers to move their drugs for them.
Despite numerous high profile and successful policing operations in the county, the officer leading on the issue in Lancashire conceded that they can’t intercept as many lines as they’d like.
DCI Rebecca Smith said: “Those that are exploiting vulnerable children, vulnerable adults, cuckooing, using serious violence, using threats they will obviously be prioritized and we score those under a matrix as to the harm those particular groups cause and that’s how we prioritise them.
“Obviously we do have to do that because we haven’t got the resources to deal with it all.”
Her force was part of a coordinated police operation yesterday targeting a line running from Liverpool to Lancashire, Cumbria and onto Perth in Scotland.
Officers arrested 44 people on Merseyside, five from Lancashire, two in Cumbria, and officers from British Transport Police arrested three people on the rail network.
Class A drugs and an imitation firearm were also recovered.