County lines dealers could turn back to public transport post-pandemic

Officers from Suffolk police carry out a drug raid in Ipswich. Picture: KAREN WILLIE

County lines drug dealers could go back to using public transport, it has been warned - Credit: Archant

County lines drug dealers could move back to using public transport as trains and coaches get busier following the lifting of Covid restrictions. 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, drug couriers were forced to use cars as opposed to coaches and trains, which were greatly reduced. 

This made county lines dealers more identifiable and increased the risk of being caught. 

Now police are monitoring whether gangs will return to public transport as passenger numbers increase - allowing them to blend in with crowds while moving drugs. 

Deputy assistant commissioner Graham McNulty of the Metropolitan Police - who work with officers in Suffolk targeting drug dealers in the joint Operation Orochi - said the pandemic made gangs easier to track. 

"It gave us the opportunity to look out for vehicles, to observe vehicles and understand the routes that people were taking," he said.

"Rather than when they're on a train or a coach and they're slightly more anonymous to us.

"We're watching closely to see how the county lines drugs distribution model changes as more people are back into the workplace and transport routes are busier."

Last year, a report by the office of the Mayor of London revealed that 113 young people from the capital were caught up in the trade across Suffolk - including 45 in Ipswich.  

Detective Superintendent David Giles from Suffolk police

Detective Superintendent David Giles, of Suffolk police, said specialist officers monitor county lines activity - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

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Detective superintendent David Giles, of Suffolk crime safeguarding and incident management command, said a team of specialist officers monitor county lines activity in the county. 

“Suffolk Constabulary continues to actively target those who bring drugs into our county as evidenced by the regular recovery of class A and B drugs, and our frequent successful prosecutions of those offenders," he said. 

“We work with other forces and agencies to target those responsible. This includes our work with forces elsewhere in the country to help us identify the individuals who control the lines from London and other major cities.

"Officers from the team in Suffolk work closely with counterparts from other forces on joint investigations.

“We have a team of specialist officers monitoring county lines activity and tracking-down the individuals who control the lines and we will do all we can to disrupt and catch those responsible for a crime that does so much harm to our communities.”

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