County Lines crackdown: Police visit Scarborough victims, and potential victims of 'cuckooing'
Police have visited dozens of vulnerable people - including some in Scarborough - as part of a crackdown on county lines drug dealing.
Along with other agencies, officers went to see 64 residents in Scarborough, Harrogate and Skipton identified as victims or potential victims of “cuckooing”.
The crime sees drug dealers take over the home of a vulnerable person in order to use it as a base for county lines drug trafficking.
Safeguarding measures were put in place ranging from rehousing people to issuing advice to make them aware about cuckooing, the signs that they might be being exploited, and how to get help.
The week of action also saw 15 people arrested - 14 men and a 17-year-old boy.
The arrests were on suspicion of various offences, ranging from supplying heroin to possessing cash obtained through criminality, and were made in Harrogate, Skipton and Keighley.
Officers worked with British Transport Police to target people using the rail network to bring drugs into North Yorkshire from towns outside of the county and raise awareness among passengers of exploitation and signs to look out for.
North Yorkshire Police has three proactive teams focused on county lines and based in the areas that are impacted most – York, Harrogate and Scarborough.
Chief Inspector Emma Aldred said: “County lines continues to be a key priority for North Yorkshire Police.
“This past week of action throws a spotlight on what is going on throughout the year to disrupt drug dealing and safeguard vulnerable people.
“The patrols and visits also allow us to gather valuable information that is used to build up a picture of what is happening in the area and forms part of a bigger picture that goes on to inform the action we take in the future.
“We urge people to continue to report any concerns they have about drug dealing or vulnerable people in their neighbourhood. We will take action.”
Police say residents can help by reporting:
Increased callers at a property
A rise in cars pulling up for short periods of time
Different accents at a property
Increased antisocial behaviour at a property
Not seeing the resident for long periods of time
Unfamiliar vehicles at the property
Windows covered or curtains closed for long periods
Communal doors propped open
Parents and carers are also being urged to look out for signs of exploitation.
The police say they often come across children as young as 14 who are dealing drugs, often not realising they are being exploited.
The signs they can watch out for are:
Persistently going missing from school or home or being found out of the area
Unexplained money, clothes, or mobile phones
Excessive receipt of texts or phone calls
Relationships with controlling or older individuals or groups
Leaving home or care without explanation
Suspicion of physical assault or unexplained injuries
Significant decline in school results or performance
Gang association or isolation from peers or social networks
Self-harm or significant changes in emotional well-being
Anyone with concerns should call North Yorkshire Police on 101.
Information can also be passed on anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555111. If you or another person is in immediate danger, always call 999.