Police slash number of county lines drug gangs by HALF after series of raids during Covid lockdown
- Last year there were around 2,000 active drug networks in operation
- But now that figure is just 600 after police rounded up ringleaders in lockdown
- Forces choked off drugs supply after making 5,000 arrests since 2019 alone
Police have more than halved the number of county lines drug gangs after rounding up ringleaders at home during lockdown.
Last year, around 2,000 drug networks were active and at its peak between November 2019 and October 2020, up to 4,002 county lines existed.
Now that figure is just 600.
Police have more than halved the number of county lines drug gangs after rounding up ringleaders at home during lockdown (stock image)
A report into the phenomenon, known as county lines after the mobile phones used to advertise drugs to customers and which often recruit children, has revealed how forces choked off drugs supply after making 5,000 arrests since 2019.
Graham McNulty, of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said: ‘Now we have turned the tide and put the pressure on them by tackling it from both ends of the chain.’
He revealed around 1,200 children and vulnerable adults have been safeguarded since 2019 and drug dealers grooming children are now being slapped with draconian slavery and trafficking prevention orders controlling their movements for 30 years in some cases.
The Met Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner said forces were working together to tackle the supply end of the drugs, which are often urban areas, as well as targeting the drug runners in rural villages and market towns where cocaine, crack and heroin is sold.
A report into the phenomenon has revealed how forces choked off drugs supply after making 5,000 arrests since 2019 (stock image)
In an intensification blitz last week, forces around the UK made 1,100 arrests, seizing 33 guns and 219 knives and taking out 80 drug dealing phone lines.
As part of the operation, 119 children were safeguarded.
According to the County Lines Strategic Assessment report published yesterday, London, Liverpool and Birmingham remain the top three exporter areas, responsible for approximately 80 per cent of supply to rural areas.
In London alone, 98 urban street gangs are involved in county lines.
The report found that approximately 20 per cent of drug runners are children, with the average age being 15.
Some teenagers aged 16-17 then go on to establish their own county lines network, often enslaving youngsters to work for them.
The report identified 955 people suspected of working for county lines operations in the UK and almost all gangs are involved in violence.
In the last year there were 313 drug-related murders, which accounts for 47 per cent of all homicides across the country.
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