A national week of action against the threat of County Lines has resulted in 11 arrests being made with five of them taking place in Bury St Edmunds.
During the week, Suffolk Constabulary along with other forces conducted arrests and warrants, organising dedicated patrols, and gathering intelligence across the Suffolk.
Among those arrested included: a 16-year-old male in Bury St Edmunds in The Vinefields area on suspicion of possession of class a drugs with intent to supply. He was subsequently bailed.
Also In Bury St Edmunds on Tuesday, September 15, four people were arrested in the Lake Avenue area of the town on suspicion of possession of class A drugs with intent to supply. A 24-year-old man, a 45-year-old man, a 24-year-old and a 36-year-old woman were all taken to Bury St Edmunds Police Investigation Centre for questioning and released under investigation pending further enquiries.
Police arrested a 17-year-old male in Ipswich on Tuesday, September 15, in Prospect Street, on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon. He was arrested and taken to Martlesham Police Investigation Centre (PIC) for questioning and released under investigation.
On Thursday, September 17, two males were arrested at a property on Newham Court, in Ipswich. Officers conducted a warrant and recovered a large quantity of cash and a large amount of drug paraphernalia from the property. A 17-year-old male and 23-year-old male were both arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of drugs. After being taken to Martlesham Heath PIC they were both released on bail to answer on October 10.
On Sunday, September 20, a 16-year-old male was arrested outside Ipswich train station on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of drugs and money laundering after he was found in possession of a large quantity of cash. He was released on police bail pending further enquiries.
Additionally, the force conducted a wide number of welfare visits to 20 properties where police understood the residents to be victims of ‘cuckooing’* with 26 vulnerable individuals engaged with.
Nine search warrants were executed during the week with a total of £800 cash recovered with cocaine, amphetamines and cannabis also recovered and seized, along with four weapons.
At Ipswich train station in an operation led by British Transport Police, officers made use of a weapons arch at the station to ensure members of the public were not carrying knives or offensive weapons. No weapons were discovered and no arrests were required.
Other activity conducted included proactive patrols around train stations in Newmarket, Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket, as well uniform and plain clothed patrols.
Officers also linked in with local hotels and B&Bs to provide fact sheets and provide awareness information to identify suspicious activity that could be associated with County Lines activity on their business premises as well as with taxi businesses to alert them to activity such as young passengers going on frequent, long journeys.
Elsewhere, a day of action was held at Copdock Tesco car park in Ipswich on Thursday, September 17, in conjunction with other partner agencies such as Trading Standards and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority. A total of 51 vehicles were checked, with 12 leaving the site clear of faults, while two arrests were made – one for suspected cannabis possession and the second was for breach of a court order. 45 traffic offence reports were issued and two vehicles were seized.
Police have also been liaising with housing partnerships on the issue of “cuckooing” and providing advice for landlords and tenants as to the signs to look for. The force’s school liaison officers and youth engagement teams have also been busy engaging with schools and colleges with advice, leaflets and talks.
Weapon sweeps were also conducted in various areas, including the Maple Park area of Ipswich and Langer Park in Felixstowe, to recover any easy to reach or concealed items that could be used for violent offences.
T/Chief Superintendent Marina Ericson said: “It’s important to point out that although the past week saw dedicated activity, our work to address the issue of County Lines and drug supply is something we tackle all year round.
“County Lines causes misery for communities and we continue to put significant effort into identifying and arresting those involved. We are determined to shine a spotlight on and bring to justice those running these toxic drug networks.
“The situation remains that while our enforcement continues, this is not an issue we can tackle alone, as indicated by our engagement work outlined above. Local agencies, charities, partners, schools, parents all need to help us protect the most vulnerable in our communities.
“I am very proud to see the impact Suffolk Constabulary has had – working with the National Crime Agency and neighbouring police forces to ensure we tackle County Lines from every angle bring these criminals to justice.”