Police in Scarborough have joined up with partner agencies to disrupt county lines drug dealing and help protect vulnerable people in the town.
County lines is the term used for a form of organised crime where criminals based in large, urban areas exploit young, and vulnerable people, using violence and threats to force them to sell, store, and transport drugs to smaller county towns on their behalf.
Two key priorities for North Yorkshire Police are the practices of cuckooing which is where drug dealers use violence to take over a vulnerable person’s home to store and sell drugs, and child criminal exploitation where young people are groomed by dealers before being forced to transport and sell drugs on their behalf.
This week a range of professionals from the multi-agency Community Impact Team (CIT) based at Scarborough Borough Council - including police officers, community safety officers, community cohesion workers, housing officers and drug and alcohol workers - have been out to visit known cuckooing victims and those who may be vulnerable to cuckooing.
The visits are intended to check on the welfare of vulnerable residents, to look for signs of drug dealing activity, gather information from the surrounding area and to provide advice and support around a range of issues from help with drug dependency to breaches of tenancy agreements.
The police also make use of cease and desist notices, which is a warning to a householder where it is suspected drug dealing is taking place, that they will face prosecution if they don’t prevent the illegal activity from taking place.
Insp Graeme Kynman of Scarborough police said: “Disrupting the practice of cuckooing of vulnerable householders continues to be a priority for us.
“Cuckooing victims are often drug users themselves or have mental or physical health problems, and are targeted because of their vulnerability.
“By working together in the Community Impact Team we have a range of resources and expertise to hand that can not only help to disrupt criminal activity but also provide help and support to people who need to escape the cycle of drugs and alcohol.”
North Yorkshire Police has adopted the Trapped campaign to help raise awareness among teenagers of the dangerous consequences of getting involved in drug dealing, believing it’s easy money.
They have also teamed up with North Yorkshire County Council to promote their drug awareness video that tells the story of a North Yorkshire teenager who was threatened into selling drugs in another county.
To help raise awareness among parents and carers, the CIT have developed an input for parents’ evenings which has been trialled at a school in Whitby. It was well received by parents and plans are in place to offer it to all schools in the borough.
Staff from Scarborough Borough Council, including environmental health officers and housing officers have also been trained to spot the indicators of county lines so that in the course of their work, they can provide valuable information that could help protect vulnerable residents and children.
Sandra Rees Community Safety and Safeguarding Manager at Scarborough Borough Council has been instrumental in raising awareness and delivering the training to staff within the council and also to external agencies such as landlords and security workers.
She said: “County lines drug dealing is one of the biggest threats to our communities and it’s vital that we all work together to stop the exploitation of vulnerable people and reduce the impact it has on local neighbourhoods.”
Passengers using the train to and from Scarborough may have also noticed an increased police presence at the railway station. This is because officers – both in uniform and those less visible – have been working alongside British Transport Police to target anyone using the train to bring drugs into the town. Often young people who have been exploited by gangs in urban areas, use the train to transport drugs on their behalf.
Information from members of the public is vital in helping the police disrupt criminal activity. Every little bit of information can help piece together a wider picture which will then inform the police activity.