Vulnerable People Safeguarded During County Lines Intensification Week

Dozens of vulnerable people were safeguarded as police and partners ramped up their efforts to combat wide-scale drug-dealing in Sussex.

A total of 36 arrests were made in the county during County Lines Intensification Week – a national operation which ran from 4 to 10 March.

Approximately 900 wraps of illegal drugs, £9,705 cash, 45 mobile phones and 12 weapons were seized during the campaign.

But while these seizures are welcomed in Sussex Police’s ongoing battle against County Lines drug-dealing, the focus of the intensification week was around child exploitation.

County Lines Intensification Week co-ordinator, Emily Drew, said: “These stats demonstrate not only how widespread County Lines drug-dealing is in Sussex, but also our continued commitment to tackle the issue head-on.

“As well as making multiple arrests and removing large quantities of harmful drugs and weapons from our streets, we helped to safeguard 68 vulnerable people across the week, including 18 children.

“We know that children are often targeted by drug-dealers to supply and distribute drugs in return for a seemingly lucrative lifestyle. But with that comes a significant risk of threats and violence, and they can quickly become embroiled in a life of crime which can be difficult to escape from.

“Working with partners including local schools, councils and youth groups, we aim to get the messages out there to protect children and prevent them from becoming involved in County Lines drug-dealing – before it’s too late.”

Among the ‘protect, prevent and prepare’ activity, officers engaged with more than 1,600 members of the public. This included delivering training sessions, school visits, leaflet drops, hotspot patrols, hotel visits and checks at properties linked to cuckooing.

Officers in Brighton & Hove got off to a flying start to the week by arresting two individuals within 20 minutes and just 500 metres of the police station. The pair had travelled from London in a hire car, and were found in possession of 80-100 wraps of illegal drugs.

In East Sussex, officers discovered a cannabis grow which led to the seizure of 248 plants in St Leonards. A knife arch operation was conducted at Warrior Square railway station in Hastings and the new police engagement hub was opened in the town by Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne.

Street briefings and engagement van events spanned with width of West Sussex, with police distributing countless leaflets, posters and other merchandise. Meanwhile, partners from West Sussex County Council delivered numerous training sessions designed to tackle child exploitation.

Emily Drew added: “While I am delighted with the results of this dedicated week of action, I’d like to assure people that we won’t stop here. County Lines drug-dealing brings enormous harm to our communities and it’s up to us, working with our partners and the public, to stop it.

“Please contact Sussex Police online or via Crimestoppers if you have any information what will help.” 

Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “It has been another successful County Lines Intensification Week for Sussex Police, with an important focus on safeguarding those who are at risk of, or are, being exploited. County lines gangs have a negative impact on the wider community and, very often, it’s information that is courageously shared by the public that leads to successful results in tackling these dangerous crimes.

“Relentless disruption of serious and organised crime and supporting the vulnerable are both key priorities in my police and crime plan and I welcome the laser-sharp focus of Sussex Police throughout the week, targeting the most harmful and prolific criminals and gangs and helping to keep the streets of Sussex, and those who live here, safe.”

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