After hearing first hand from police officers about the impact of county lines drug crime in Redditch, Rachel Maclean, MP for Redditch County, has welcomed Government plans to bolster its response to crack down on drug gangs.
On Friday (September 21st), the Government launched the £3.6million National County Lines Coordination Centre as UK law enforcement agencies significantly strengthen their response to county lines drug crime.
The new multi-agency 38-strong team of experts from the National Crime Agency, police forces and regional organised crime units will work together to develop the national intelligence picture of the complexity and scale of the threat. They will then prioritise action against the most serious offenders, and engage with partners to across Government, including health, welfare and education, to tackle the wider issues.
County lines relates to the supply of Class A drugs, primarily crack cocaine and heroin, from cities to market towns, coastal areas and rural locations by young people, using a branded mobile phone line.
Gangs and criminal networks use extreme violence and intimidation to establish and maintain markets, with practices including forcing vulnerable people from their homes to establish a base to sell drugs.
The most recent national assessment of county lines, compiled by the NCA, suggests there were more than 1,000 lines in operation nationally with links to increasing levels of serious violence.
There are already 200 active county lines investigations underway, but the introduction of the centre will allow police forces, including West Mercia, to intensify their operations.
Recently, Rachel joined the police out on patrol in Redditch and heard first-hand about the ongoing issues with county lines in the town.
Rachel said: “We need to end the scourge of county lines drug crime in our town and across the country. The Government is bolstering its response to county lines drug gangs by launching the National County Lines Coordination Centre – an announcement local police officers will I’m sure join me in welcoming.
“County Lines are having a significant impact on our community, something I saw first-hand when I joined PC Chris Burns out on patrol a few weeks ago.
“These gangs are using vulnerable young people in our town to sell drugs. This is an appalling crime and these gangs should know that the law will catch up with them as the Government cracks down on these deplorable crimes.”
The National County Lines Coordination Centre is the latest measure in the Government’s response to the recent rise in serious violence, set out in the £40million Serious Violence Strategy, which places a new focus on early intervention alongside robust law enforcement.