Young and vulnerable people living in our communities are being exploited by drugs gangs. It’s happening right now. Wiltshire Police are asking for your help to protect them.

County lines is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more importing areas in the UK, using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of ‘deal line’. They are likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults to move and store the drugs and money, and they will often use coercion, intimidation, violence and weapons. Gangs based in cities like London are targeting the most vulnerable people in small towns across the country to sell class A drugs on their behalf.

This type of behaviour is a significant threat to the local communities and will not be tolerated.

They are asking for your help to spot the signs and act on your concerns, your voice will be heard and will make a difference.

Director of Intelligence Sonja Leith said: “County lines is everyone’s responsibility and I would urge members of the public to be vigilant and look out for some of the most visible signs that county lines drugs gangs are operating in neighbourhoods and to report this to police.

“Our intelligence teams work hard to identify where county lines are exploiting vulnerable children and adults, and to proactively disrupt these networks. The intelligence we receive from our communities is crucial in helping us, our partner agencies and neighbouring forces in tackling county lines and safeguarding people.

“By raising awareness of the issue, I hope more people will be able to spot the signs, and feel comfortable in reporting information to the police. Your call could save lives.”

Angus Macpherson, Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, said: “Two of my priorities for the next four years, as outlined in my Police and Crime Plan 2017 – 2021, are to prevent crime and keep people safe, and protect the most vulnerable people in society. It is these very people who are being targeted by individuals from large metropolitan cities, who are travelling to rural counties like Wiltshire, with the belief that they will be able to deal drugs from the properties of these vulnerable people. As a result, vulnerable people are being threatened and exploited, often in their own homes.

“I am aware that many people still consider drugs as a victimless crime. This is not the case, and we want to ensure that people who find themselves in these situations have support.

“The Force will continue to work with local authorities to reduce the harm and prevent the crime caused by alcohol and substance misuse, but I would also urge the residents of Wiltshire and Swindon to help us combat drug supply – we cannot do it alone and the police often rely on information from the public to build up an intelligence picture. Please continue to help by reporting any information to 101.”

Signs to look out for:

Exploitation
■■ Has a child or young person gone missing from school or home?
■■ Are they meeting with unfamiliar adults?
■■ Have you noticed a change in their behaviour?
■■ Are they using drugs and alcohol?
■■ Has there been a breakdown in relationships with family and friends?
This could be a sign that they are being coerced and controlled to commit crime.
Call 101 to report it.

Cuckooing
Drug dealers will often take over the homes of vulnerable people as they use it as a base to deal drugs in the area. The vulnerable person may be being kept inside against their will.
■■ Have you noticed more people calling at an address? Sometimes at unsociable
hours?
■■ Have you noticed a neighbour has not been seen for a while?
■■ Are there suspicious smells coming from an address?
■■ Are there suspicious or unfamiliar vehicles outside the address?

Cuckooing could be taking place. Look out for your neighbours and report suspicions to 101.

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