Hundreds arrested after police crackdown on county lines
- Credit: Met Police
Four hundred people have been arrested after a county lines week of action with the Met Police.
From October 11 to 17, the national country lines intensification saw hundreds of officers come together and more than 120 vulnerable adults and children safeguarded.
They also said they seized 5kg of class A drugs, including 667 wraps; two firearms, one imitation and one unconfirmed; 17 knives, including a hammer knife and a machete; nine offensive weapons and two knuckle dusters.
Additionally, officers said they recovered more than £130,000 in cash, €450,000 in euros, £100,000 in criminal assets and 45 vehicles.
As part of the operation, 19 men were arrested in dawn raids in Tower Hamlets.
County lines refers to drug dealing where criminals use phone lines to move and supply drugs.
The gangs exploit vulnerable people and control members with high levels of violence and intimidation.
The Met says it has increased the use of modern slavery legislation to tackle the issue, with its team Operation Orochi funded by the Home Office in November 2019.
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Its creation led to teams across the force rescuing over 500 people from exploitation, closing close to 600 country lines, arresting more than 1,000 alleged county lines line holders and associates and charging over 1,700 people for a range of offences including supply, modern slavery and weapon possession.
The week also saw officers from Brent, Harrow and Barnet featuring on anti-knife crime charity Hearts of Talent’s new online talk show - Heart 2 Hearts.
The Met says they are providing officers with more training to spot the signs of exploitation by working with The Children’s Society.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty said: “County lines devastate lives, which is why we are absolutely committed to robustly tackling the issue head-on by arresting, charging and locking up the line-holders who cause misery for communities and those that they exploit.”
Det Supt Rick Sewart from Operation Orochi urged people to share information about drug dealing, exploitation or violence.
He said: “We all have a responsibility to make London a safe place.”
National programme manager at The Children’s Society's prevention programme, James Simmonds-Read, said: “Police have a vital role to play, not only in arresting and bringing to justice the predators grooming and exploiting children into county lines, but also in ensuring these victims of exploitation get the help they need.”
Report crime by calling 101 or give anonymous information through independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.