42% of youths held for drug dealing in Suffolk come from outside area
Four in 10 children arrested for drug-dealing offences come to Suffolk across county lines, according to police figures.
About 42% of youths held on suspicion of dealing drugs over a three-year period were registered as residing outside Suffolk.
Suffolk police said drug-dealing across borders had a significant impact on towns across the region - and that officers continued to work with other forces to bring those responsible to justice.
Freedom of Information data showed that most of the 195 under-18s arrested from November 2015 to 2019 were local to Suffolk.
Offences included supplying, possession with intent to supply, and being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs.
Those subsequently charged included a 14-year-old, eight 15-year-olds and 25 16-year-olds.
The highest proportion of suspected young drug-dealers from outside Suffolk came from London (47) and Essex (20).
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Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger said: "Much drug-dealing that takes place across borders is an extremely fluid type of criminality. It has a significant impact on towns across the eastern region and drives a wide range of offences.
"Our objectives is to identify dealers of drugs, and to disrupt and dismantle their activity, and we continue to work in partnership with other police forces and agencies, such as the Eastern Region Specialist Operations Unit, on a daily basis to gain sufficient intelligence and evidence so those responsible are bought to justice and convicted.
"The force wants to ensure the county remains a hostile environment for those involved in the supply of drugs and provide reassurance to Suffolk residents."
Det Ch Supt Bridger said the commitment was demonstrated by investment in three new proactive Sentinel teams tackling serious and organised criminal activity linked to drug trafficking, as well as Suffolk's Serious Crime Disruption Teams, Operation Scorpion teams and locally based officers conducting regular intelligence-led operations.
'County lines' is a term used to describe gangs involved in exporting drugs to areas using dedicated mobile phone lines.
Figures released by the Mayor of London last September showed that 4,000 people had been recruited to run networks across 41 counties, including 238 into Suffolk and 65 in Ipswich between January 2018 and April 2019.
-We're inviting our readers to contribute to a discussion on the causes and effects of knife crime and county lines drug dealing in Suffolk.
The Open House conversation will be held on March 5 in our Ipswich newsroom with representatives of local organisations, including Suffolk Constabulary.
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