PCC backs Crimestoppers campaign to identify County Lines offenders
Norfolk's Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green is backing an initiative aimed at encouraging members of the public to help identify County Lines drug networks in the county.
Charity Crimestoppers is launching an Advan campaign in Norfolk to raise awareness about the issue of County Lines while encouraging people to pick up the phone and report any suspicious activity in their area.
The week-long call for action has been made possible thanks to funding secured by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk (OPCCN) under the Home Office’s ‘Early Intervention Youth Fund’ (EIYF).
PCC Lorne Green, said: "I am delighted my office was able to secure funding for such a vital campaign. I hope members of the public in Norfolk will pick up the phone and report any suspicious activity taking place in their neighbourhood. We all have a duty of care to help keep our communities safe."
The OPCCN succeeded in securing £700,000 of the Home Office’s EIYF in November 2018 to improve working between key agencies including police and children’s services in the county. The Crimestoppers initiative - which has cost £6,000 - is one of a number of projects being funded under the scheme.
The Advan will be touring the county during the week including Norwich, Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn.
The campaign will also use a series of `spot the signs’ social media tools and posters to highlight the issue.
There have been more than 1,000 arrests for County Lines in Norfolk since December 2016 and the number of Lines active in the county has nearly halved from around 50 to 27 over the past few years.
Whilst local authorities are working together to tackle these groups, the local community also has a vital role to play in helping to identify vulnerable adults and children and gather evidence of illegal drug activity.
The signs to look out for are:
- Change in behaviour
- Signs of assault and/or malnutrition
- Access to numerous phones
- Use of unusual terms e.g. going country
- Associating with gangs
- Unexplained bus/train tickets
- School truancy/Missing
- Unexplained gifts (clothes, trainers) and cash
The term ‘County Lines’ refers to criminal gangs from large towns or cities who move into a new area and take control of the local drug trade through violence and intimidation. They then use a single telephone number, operated from outside the local area, to sell their drugs.
It has a huge impact on communities in cities and towns across Norfolk and on vulnerable children and adults who are recruited from outside the county. They then transport and sell drugs in Norfolk, bringing the cash proceeds back, so that the criminals controlling them can remain hidden and far harder to arrest. After moving into an area, they often set up a base in the area by taking over the home of a vulnerable person through ‘cuckooing’.
Phil Breckon, Eastern Regional Manager for the charity Crimestoppers, added: “The term County Lines is one that many people are only just becoming familiar with, so our charity is keen to raise awareness so we can prevent vulnerable people from being exploited and help keep our communities safe.
“When drug gangs set up their operations in Norfolk we know that your information can make all the difference in helping to have them removed. Our charity doesn’t judge or ask for person details. We guarantee that you will stay 100% anonymous. Always.”
"If you have any information about drug gangs and networks who have recently moved into Norfolk, please contact Crimestoppers 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111 or use the anonymous online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org.”