POLICE have teamed up with an organised crime unit to combat drug dealers in Havant and Waterlooville.
Hampshire Constabulary is working with the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) in order to disrupt the ‘County Lines’ organised crime groups.
Typical ‘County Lines’ activity involves an organised crime group from a large city travelling to smaller locations, such as a county or coastal towns and cities to sell class A drugs in particular cocaine and heroin.
Chief Inspector Clare Jenkins said: ‘Today’s day of Fortress action sends a clear message that we are committed to disrupting the supply of Class A drugs, such as heroin and crack cocaine, in Havant and Waterlooville.
‘The offences which these gangs commit range from slavery and trafficking to firearms and economic crime.
‘Therefore Hampshire Constabulary and SEROCU are actively working with local partners to safeguard vulnerable adults and children.
‘The most successful safeguarding outcomes have involved multiple agencies, including police, housing authorities, town councils, public health bodies, charities and the media.’
Officers have been involved in high visibility patrols throughout the area and activity involving covert tactics.
Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Barton who chairs the regional drugs threat group which brings together Hampshire Constabulary along with the other forces in the region to help tackle this threat said: ‘County Lines are not just a drug problem, nor is it just a concern for Hampshire Constabulary.
‘These organised crime groups operate without boundaries, and therefore it is important that the police also operate in this way by bringing together the forces in the South East region to tackle together and bring these groups to justice and protect the victims of their crimes.’
The name ‘County Lines’ is used because the organised crime group establishes and operates a single telephone number for customers ordering drugs, operated from outside the area, which becomes their ‘brand’. Unlike other criminal activities where telephone numbers are changed on a regular basis, these telephone numbers have value so are maintained and protected.
Detective Chief Inspector Rachel Wheatman, leading the response from SEROCU, said: ‘We know that almost always, these organised crime groups set up these lines through the exploitation of vulnerable children, young people and adults.
‘The organised crime groups tend to use a local property, generally belonging to a vulnerable person, as a base for their activities. This is often taken over by force or coercion, and in some instances victims have left their homes in fear of violence.
‘We will look to use our full capabilities in assisting Hampshire Constabulary in order to target and disrupt these organised crime groups, whilst also providing the required safeguarding for their victims.’
Many sources of further advice and assistance to help combat the harm caused by drugs are available including;
Inclusion Recovery Havant Hub
The Orion Centre, Dunsbury Way, Leigh Park, Havant
Tel: 0300 124 0103 option 5.
FRANK - Provides straight-talking information about drugs
•Helpline number: 0800 77 66 00
How do you get involved?
Nobody knows their streets, towns and villages better than the people who live and work there. If you see something happening that is out of place, then you can contact us and know it will be dealt with seriously.
Be aware of some of the signs:
· Trafficking - A sign that it is occurring could be a house being used by a large group of people. Women are often brought into the UK illegally on the promise of real work only to be sold for sex.
· Cannabis factory – Those who set them up often tamper with electrical supplies or leave live cables exposed putting lives at risk. Profits go into producing cocaine and heroin.
· Card skimming - Organised crime groups can target cashpoint users as a way of obtaining personal information and stealing money.
· Cyber crime – fraudulent emails or phishing scams with the aim of getting personal details are often distributed by organised crime groups.
· Although it may seem a trivial detail to you, to us, it could be the final piece of a much bigger puzzle.
· You can report concerns to 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. You can also speak to your local authority about non-criminal matters and they can make a referral to police.