Cambridgeshire Police has launched a week-long campaign to raise awareness of county lines criminality, when organised crime groups from big cities, mainly London, extend their drug dealing into new areas.
Drug dealers get young people to deliver their drugs, by paying them or by forcing them through violence and grooming. It is a crime that can affect girls and boys, regardless of their background or culture.
These young people, known as ‘runners’, travel between big cities and other areas to deliver drugs and collect cash on behalf of the dealers. They may swallow drugs to avoid police finding them.
Vulnerable adults are also forced to help with the running of the county line and could have their homes taken over by dealers and used as drug dens.
DI Billy Bremner, the force’s tactical lead for county lines, hopes the awareness campaign will help victims, their friends, family and carers recognise this type of behaviour as abuse and report it to police or partner agencies.
He said: “The sad reality is that there are vulnerable adults and children in the county being groomed and forced to sell drugs.
“We need to educate and make young people aware of this type of exploitation so that we can help them make the right decisions about drugs.
“We often hear that victims of county lines criminality don’t know they are being exploited or don’t have the confidence to report it because they fear there may be consequences from the organised crime groups who force them to sell drugs.”
Everybody can play a role in supporting us to keep our local areas safe from drug dealing.
Here are some questions that might help you identify strange activities where you live or work, that may be related to drugs:
* Have you seen something you think could be drug related?
* Do you know someone who is being forced or asked to deal drugs?
* Do you know someone who has a drugs debt?
* Do you suspect someone is dealing drugs?
* Have you seen a vehicle you think is transporting drugs?
* Are lots of vehicles visiting a particular house at all times of the day and night?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you can report drugs related crimes to us online or call us on 101. You don’t have to tell us your name, just what you know or have seen.
If you’d prefer you can contact Crimestoppers to report anonymously online or by calling them on 0800 555 111.
If someone is in immediate danger or a crime is taking place you should always call 999.
Drug use support - There are many local and national drug support specialists and websites, which you may find useful:
* Fearless - 0800 555 111
* Childline - 0800 1111
* Victim and Witness Hub - 800 7816818 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
* Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) - 0870 000 3344
* The Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England - 020 7783 8330
* Barnardos - 0208 550 8822