Greater Manchester Police (GMP) joined forces from across the country during a nationwide week of action to tackle county lines.
Co-ordinated action took place between Monday 3 – Sunday 9 October 2022 to tackle offenders attempting to draw young and vulnerable victims into criminality.
Officers from all districts worked collectively throughout the week and took part in the execution of 6 warrants in Trafford, Salford and Rochdale, in addition to a huge range of work within the community. The proactive policing led to 9 arrests for a range of county lines offences as well as modern slavery and possession with intent to supply. A range of other tactics were used throughout the week, which led to collaborative working with the West Yorkshire and Tameside Challenger team, with a further 2 arrests carried out in support of an on-going investigation led by GMP.
In addition to tackling those responsible for the exploitation of young and vulnerable victims, officers have carried out a range of community engagement to help educate local communities and local partners in how to spot the signs of exploitation, and how they can play their part in helping safeguard those who may be at risk. This work included visits to local schools, colleges, transport HUBs, hotels, youth clubs, care homes and places of worship. Joint visits with housing providers also took place to tackle cuckooing, safeguarding residents and referring to social services where required.
A focus on education resulted in multiple schools and youth groups benefitting from training, literature, and informative sessions around gang culture and exploitation, raising much needed awareness in the community around the signs of county lines activity.
In April 2022, the Force was named as the fourth police force in the country to receive dedicated funding to take down county lines drug networks which are destroying lives and tearing apart communities. The new dedicated county lines team is working alongside our partners within the existing Programme Challenger partnership, disrupting and dismantling networks, but also ensuring that the vulnerable people affected will get the best possible support available.
Our work will contribute towards the government’s new Drug Strategy target of eliminating more than 2,000 county lines over the next three years, backed by up to £145 million of investment to do more than ever to tackle the most violent and exploitative distribution model seen yet.
DCI Claire McGuire from Programme Challenger at GMP said: “We remain committed to tackling county lines here in Greater Manchester which has been bolstered by the additional funding, and the establishment of a new County Lines Team. I hope the results from this week send a strong message to those exploiting the most vulnerable members of our society to further their own criminal business.
“A lot of planning and hard work goes into these weeks, and I am proud to see collectively across all districts there has been some great results. I have no doubt the activity will be disruptive to criminal networks, operating both within Greater Manchester and beyond, and our work to tackle those responsible and protect those being exploited will not stop here.
“I also hope the community engagement work that has gone on across the week helps further protect and safeguard young and vulnerable people who are used to transport drugs and forced into other illegal activity – this is child exploitation, and I want to make that message clear.
“I would also like to reiterate that support is available to anyone who feels threatened, knows they are being exploited, or has concerns about the way they are being treated.
“I encourage members of the public to make themselves aware of the signs of child criminal exploitation. We rely on intelligence being submitted to help us drive our operations forwards, so it really is imperative that no matter how big or small, anyone with concerns should come forwards.
“You could be the difference for a victim, and we all have a responsibility to protect young and vulnerable members of our communities, so it is important we all know what to look out for."
Signs of criminal exploitation and county lines include:
If you have any concerns, please visit the GMP website to access the LiveChat or online reporting facility, or by dialling 101. Alternatively, you can make an anonymous report to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via https://crimestoppers-uk.org/