07:30AM, Thursday 27 May 2021
A week of action by Thames Valley Police has led to 81 arrests and £42,000 being seized in connection with county lines drug dealing.
County lines is the term used to describe a form of organised crime where criminals pressure vulnerable people and children to transport, store and sell drugs from urban areas to smaller towns.
This type of drug dealing exploits children and vulnerable adults who may have mental health or addiction problems.
Generally, these people are exploited by OCGs (organised crime group) to supply and run drugs, and are often forced into this activity through intimidation and violence.
Last week the force worked with local authorities, homeless charities and schools for a week-long series of activities.
Officers made 81 arrests, 17 warrants and 129 searches over this period, taking 626 wraps of cocaine, heroin and cannabis off the streets.
The police also seized more than £42,000 of cash and 85 phones linked to county lines drug dealing.
The force intervened in 136 addresses where ‘cuckooing’ has taken place – in which OCGs target the address of a vulnerable adult, taking over the property and forcing the vulnerable person to sell drugs out of their home.
The police identified and engaged with 95 vulnerable people.
Officers also carried out 103 school visits to teach young people and teachers how to spot signs that someone is being groomed by an OCG.
The force has advised to look out for young people, sometimes as young as 12, travelling long distances alone, as they may have been recruited as couriers for OCGs.
Detective Chief Superintendent Richard List, said: “Thames Valley Police sees tackling OCGs and county lines as an absolute priority.
“It is important for us all to be familiar with the signs that someone might be the victim of drugs exploitation as only with the public’s help can we stop this.
“If you think someone shows sign of mistreatment, or a child seems to be travelling long distances, or is unfamiliar with the area they are in, then you can report your suspicions to Thames Valley Police on 101 or via our website.”
The changes could see Colnbrook with Poyle, Langley Kedermister and Foxborough wards moved from Slough to the Windsor parliamentary constituency.