The squalor and poor living conditions which vulnerable young people are often forced into while dealing drugs for city based gangs has been the social media focus of our latest County Lines activity in Wiltshire.
Between Monday 13 and Sunday 19 May 2019, as part of a nationwide week lead by the National Crime Agency and National Police Chiefs’ Council, Wiltshire Police officers carried out welfare checks on a number of addresses in the county.
As a result:
24 vulnerable adults were identified and engaged with – of those 11 were women and 13 were men.
41 “cuckooed” addresses were visited.
Also, two males were arrested with one of those being charged for drugs and slavery offences; also a hundred wraps of crack cocaine and £600 in cash were recovered during the week thanks to work by both Wiltshire’s Dedicated Crime Team (DCT) and Community Policing Teams.
On Tuesday 14 May, Jordan Essien (19) from Queens Road, Lewisham, London was arrested in the capital following an investigation by Wiltshire Police’s DCT into crack cocaine and heroin being supplied from London into the Salisbury and Amesbury areas since June 2018.
He was subsequently charged with the following and has been remanded in custody:
Being Concerned in Supply of class A drugs – Crack Cocaine
Being Concerned in Supply of class A drugs – Heroin
Human Trafficking under the Modern Slavery Act 2015
Also, on Tuesday 14 May, during a vulnerability visit at Dennis House in Salisbury, a 17-year-old local male was arrested on suspicion of possessing class A drugs – he was released while our investigations continue.
Det Insp Paul Franklin, from Wiltshire Police’s DCT, said: “County Lines gangs from big cities are a real problem which is closer to home that some people might think. Wiltshire may seem like a quiet, leafy county but the reality is that some young and vulnerable people living in our communities are being exploited by these gangs who get them to do their dirty work.
“Also, the people purchasing the drugs, who are often vulnerable themselves, regularly commit crime to fund their habit. It’s a spiral we want to help them break.
“Targeting those who operate in Wiltshire, intending to selling class A drugs, remains a priority for us and we will carry on demonstrating that Swindon and Wiltshire is an unattractive place for those involved in County Lines drug dealing.”
Head of Crime Prevention for Wiltshire Police Sonja Leith said: “Our social media campaign this time has focused on the squalor often endured by the young people who are coerced into dealing drugs for city based gangs, taken away from home and forced to stay in a cold and dirty flat or house with no proper food and sometimes no running water.
“Despite the promises of wealth and riches made by the gangs involved more often than not those manipulated into drug running find themselves enslaved and forced to do someone else’s dirty work. There is no glamour in running County Lines – just misery; and not only for those youngsters involved but for their families and friends who also suffer the anxiety about a person’s whereabouts if they go missing as well as possible threats from the criminals involved.
“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 drugs gangs are operating in neighbourhoods and to report this to us – your call could save lives.
“Together with our partner agencies across Swindon and Wiltshire, we work hard to identify where County Lines are exploiting vulnerable children and adults, to proactively disrupt these networks and to safeguard and protect those at risk of harm. The intelligence we receive from people in all of our communities is crucial in helping us, our partner agencies and neighbouring forces tackle this.”