Dorset police step up fight against drugs networks

PUBLISHED: 13:01 29 January 2019

Superintendent Caroline Naughton Picture: Dorset Police

Superintendent Caroline Naughton Picture: Dorset Police

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Ruthless dealers are using vulnerable young people as couriers

Police in Dorset are stepping up their campaign to raise awareness of dangerous drugs networks – known as ‘county lines’.

They are issuing advice on how to spot the signs of vulnerable people being used as couriers by ruthless dealers.

‘County lines’ is the term used to describe urban gangs supplying drugs to other parts of the UK using dedicated mobile phone lines. The gangs are likely to exploit children or vulnerable adults to move and store drugs and they will often use violence and coercion.

Superintendent Caroline Naughton said: “The next phase of our campaign focuses on transport links. Young, vulnerable people are often transported across our counties using public transport including trains, buses, or private hire taxis.

“We are asking taxi drivers, rail staff and bus company staff to spot the signs of county lines exploitation and look out for these vulnerable young people.

“If they spot anything which makes them suspicious, such as children travelling alone on public transport, possibly during school hours, or being unfamiliar with the local area, they should report it to us.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “The gangs who operate these networks are absolutely ruthless in the way they exploit young and vulnerable people.”

Some of the signs of ‘county lines’ involvement and exploitation are:

• A child or young person going missing from school or home or significant changes in emotional wellbeing.

• A person meeting unfamiliar adults or a change to their behaviour.

• The use of drugs and alcohol.

• Acquiring money or expensive gifts they can’t account for.

• Lone children from outside of the area.

• Individuals with multiple mobile phones, tablets or ‘SIM cards’.

• Young people with more money, expensive clothing, or accessories than they can account for.

• Unknown or suspicious looking characters coming and going from a neighbour’s house.

• Relationships with controlling or older individuals or associations with gangs.

• Suspicion of self-harm, physical assault or unexplained injuries.

Superintendent Naughton added: “If someone is showing signs of mistreatment, if a child seems to be travelling long distances or is unfamiliar with a locality, the best advice is to trust your instincts and report your suspicions to the police online or by calling 101.

“Suspicious behaviour on the rail network can be reported to British Transport Police by texting 61016. Alternatively call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

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