County lines drug gangs will be eliminated in two years, says policing minister

County lines drug operations will be eliminated in the next two years, the policing minister has pledged.

Kit Malthouse told the Roads Policing Conference on Wednesday that officers will help bring an end to the drug gangs "peddling misery".

County lines drug gangs operate across the UK. Dealers, often children, run drugs, taking buses or trains from cities into rural towns and villages.

Mr Malthouse told the conference that work to disrupt the use of the rail network by gangs has meant dealers will be forced onto the roads. He said forces will be given more assistance to make use of ANPR cameras, which read a car’s number plate and track vehicles used in organised crime.

In July, Boris Johnson published his Beating Crime plan, which he said sent a clear message to "vile individuals who prey on young children to run county lines gangs that we are coming for you".

Mr Malthouse told police officers at the conference, organised by the Police Federation of England and Wales, to "be ready for the push on county lines".

"These drug dealing lines that are peddling misery and the degradation into so many of our towns and villages around the country have to be stopped, and we are making good progress," he said.

"As we accelerate further, and in particular, as the British Transport Police tighten their grip on the rail network – where we know so many young people are sent to traffic drugs – I do think we will see a transfer of this traffic onto the roads.

"And so your ability to identify, to intercept, to cut those lines, travelling on the motorway, and the strategic road network is absolutely critical.

"I know these are well honed skills, and there’s much we can do to assist you in the targeting through better use of ANPR. Better analysis of ANPR. And more is coming. But please be ready for the push on county lines."

So far, police forces across the UK have closed around 1,100 lines of illegal drug supply and made 6,300 arrests. In Norfolk, which had over 100 county lines 18 months ago, there are now thought to be fewer than 10, said Mr Malthouse.

"Now is the time, if you’ll forgive the pun, to put our foot on the accelerator, and really start to clear them out, town by town, county by county in the way we have been doing over the last couple of years," he said. "In the next two years, I’m hopeful we can see the end of this particularly unpleasant business model. And you will play a critical part in that."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *