A week of action to tackle ‘county lines’ by the Met has resulted in more than 290 arrests, 110 people safeguarded, the seizure of 16.9kg worth of suspected drugs and the closure of 92 drug lines.

Officers from the Met were at the forefront of a national ‘County Lines Intensification Week’ from the 9-15 October, focused on stopping those intent on causing violence, drug supply and anti-social behaviour within London communities.

County lines is a drug supply model that trafficks drugs in and out of rural areas and smaller towns from major cities, exploiting young and vulnerable people to carry out the criminality.

The Met targeted ‘line holders’ who are people who manage where the drugs are distributed through the ‘runners’ and focussed on safeguarding the young and vulnerable who had been exploited to move drugs.

The Met’s work resulted in:

290 arrests163 people with a total of 377 charges and 287 drug trafficking charges238 charges for Class A drugs and 49 for Class B drugs92 county lines closed in collaboration with partner forces110 people safeguarded9,878 people engaged in drug lines training and awareness events

The following was also seized:

17 firearms including Glock’s, revolvers, imitation firearms and live ammunition56 weapons including Zombie knives, machetes, and swords7.6kg Class A drugs9.3kg Class B drugs£214,568 cash

Officers offered 31 young people referrals to specialist support providers, such as Rescue and Response, Catch22 and The Prince’s Trust and three individuals were referred to the National Referral Mechanism, which assesses potential victims of human trafficking and modern slavery.

Acting Detective Superintendent Dan Mitchell, who led the operation for the Met said:

“County Lines devastates lives. It is much more than drug dealing and causes real visible harm to London communities, as well as local communities in towns and cities throughout the UK. Drug dealers exploit vulnerable children and adults and cause wider violence.

“This week of action shows the Met are doing all we can, in partnership with County Forces, to close drug lines, arrest and charge offenders, protect vulnerable people and prevent harm to communities.

“Through proactive and precise policing, our approach targeting high-harm offenders, reduces crime. We recognise we need the help of our partners and the public, which is why we work closely with youth charities and local authorities, to ensure that those who are most vulnerable and caught up in drug trafficking get the help that they desperately need to turn their lives around.”

County lines is much more than drug dealing – it causes real, visible harm to young people and has wide-reaching impact on communities. The Met have been educating local communities on issues surrounding county lines. Examples include intelligence led patrols, and our officers speaking to young people and vulnerable adults that might be targeted to distribute drugs.

The Met’s ongoing work on county lines is called Operation Orochi. Since November 2019, working with county forces to crack down on modern slavery cases, the Met has made 110 arrests, where 94 defendants have been charged with 135 modern slavery charges.

James Simmonds-Read, National Programme Manager at The Children’s Society, said:

“Making sure that police forces and other experts can detect the signs of exploitation in young people is vital. These signals can be subtle so it’s encouraging to see that more young victims can now get the help they urgently need. Our #LookCloser campaign, is pivotal in raising awareness of these issues.

“As the nights draw darker, we urge members of the public and businesses to stay vigilant. Spotting signs of child exploitation, especially in settings such as fast-food joints, taxis and hotels is crucial. Any young person can be targeted, anywhere, but these places are often used to target, move, and abuse young people.”

As part of the New Met for London plan, the Met are committed to preventing crime through a proactive and precise approach to policing, and raising awareness within the community by strengthened neighbourhood teams. Our response to county lines is an example of how we are disrupting high-harm offenders, and working with partners to help educate Londoners and keep our communities safe.

+ If you are concerned about drug-related crime in your area or think someone may be a victim of drug exploitation, please call us on 101. Always call 999 in an emergency.

If you would like to provide information anonymously, call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit crimestoppers-uk.org. No personal details are taken, information cannot be traced or recorded and you will not go to court or have to speak to police when contacting Crimestoppers.

For more information on county lines and how to prevent yourself or a loved one from becoming a victim, visit www.met.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/cl/county-lines

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