Day in, day out we work to tackle County Lines all around Staffordshire and there's a number of people and partners who are vital to this work.
Day in, day out we work to tackle County Lines all around Staffordshire and there's a number of people and partners who are vital to this work. So we thought we'd hear from one of those individuals to find out more about the people who are working hard to disrupt the criminals who try to exploit vulnerable young people in our towns and villages, with the aim of trafficking drugs into Staffordshire.
Name: Lee Hardy
Job: Neighbourhood Action Team Sergeant
Years’ service: I have been an officer with Staffordshire Police for twenty years and prior to that I worked as police staff for West Midlands Police and Staffordshire Police for ten years.
How is your team involved in tackling County Lines: We have been involved in tackling county lines for a number of years now and I remember my first experience of it was finding two young people from the Birmingham area who were being put up in the home of a known drug user. This is common practice in County Lines and is known as cuckooing. The young people are placed in these addresses by the gang leaders and are paid a nominal fee to deal drugs. During this time they are often living in squalid conditions and are mixing with sometimes dangerous individuals. There is a real need for members of the public to report any suspicious activity to help identify addresses being used for cuckooing. We also work closely with partner agencies, such as British Transport Police and West Midlands Police, to help tackle County Lines activity, sharing information and intelligence. We have to understand that although these young people are committing crimes and may initially be treated as suspects, a lot of them are in fact victims who are being exploited and are actually quite vulnerable. We treat each arrest individually and where it is believed that they are victims we ensure that all relevant safeguarding is put in place, this along with early intervention can hopefully guide them away from criminal activity. Ultimately our main aim is to identify the gang leaders that are exploiting these children and to ensure that they are brought to justice.