43 arrests, drugs and cash seized as well as 62 people safeguarded during week-long pursuit of county lines networks
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The results were following a week of action taking place across Greater Manchester.
A total of £57,400 in cash was seized and approximately £360,000 worth of street value drugs including 496 wraps/deals and 4kg of cannabis, crack cocaine and heroin. An imitation firearm, machetes, baseball bats and swords were also recovered.
In Greater Manchester, county lines is linked to serious violence, threats and harm to those associated with organised crime, creating a risk to the wider community. The information police receive from the public is important in preventing and protecting communities, vulnerable adults and children.
In Harpurhey officers participated in two days of action with the charity Crimestoppers. It involved interacting with the local community to inform of organised crime occurring in the area and to encourage anonymous reporting with a digital van travelling around the area and a maildrop delivered to 10,000 homes.
Seventeen homes were identified as linked to cuckooing and people living there visited by officers and partners to provide specialist support and advice to safeguard them. This is a term used to describe how organised crime groups force their way into the homes to use the property to store drugs and firearms.
Officers engaged with and safeguarded 17 boys and 10 girls aged under 18 who could be at risk of exploitation by organised crime groups. They also patrolled hot spot areas at bus and train stations alongside fast food restaurants.
Primary and secondary schools also received visits, to educate pupils and teachers on how organised crime groups recruit youngsters to deal drugs on their behalf and the signs they should look out for.
The activity ran from Monday 27 February to Friday 3 March.
Detective Inspector Zoe MacDonald, from GMP’s County Lines Team, said: “The results we’ve achieved will have caused considerable disruption to the county line networks operating in Greater Manchester, most importantly it has helped safeguard vulnerable members of our community.
“County lines encompasses a wide-ranging threat to the people within our city and isn’t a crime based on drug dealing alone. It brings with it exploitation of vulnerable people and children but also serious risk and harm to those involved in and associated with organised crime groups. The feuds, violence and murders behind the scenes should highlight the true reality of organised crime and not the lavish lifestyle often portrayed on the streets and on social media.
“Therefore, the work we do on a weekly basis to disrupt organised crime, protect and prevent young children and vulnerable adults from being targeted by organised crime gangs will continue to be one of our top priorities.”
These are some signs to look out for that could mean a child or vulnerable adult might be a victim of criminal exploitation:
Unexplained gifts, money and new expensive clothes or accessories
Increased missing from home episodes
New friendship groups
Receiving excessive calls or messages from ‘new friends’
Carrying weapons and may have a few mobile phones
Secretive or withdrawn from family and/or friends
Getting picked up or dropped off by unknown people
Not seeing the person who lives there, and a clear change in behaviour and routine
Increase in visitors or cars to a house or flat at unsociable hours
Signs of drug use such as strange smells coming from the property
Windows covered or curtains closed all the time
People talking on phones outside the address
DI MacDonald added: “I think the people of Greater Manchester are aware of how persistent we are pursuing these criminals and the week of action is a snapshot of what occurs daily.
“The public is key in helping us be one step ahead of these criminals. By being our eyes and our ears and finding the courage to report what is taking place in your community it helps us be relentless in our pursuit of organised crime.
“Our good work can only continue if communities not only learn to understand the signs of activity linked to serious and organised crime but come forward to report that information – no matter how small.
“Let us know when you get that niggling feeling that somebody is being exploited, when you think a house might have been taken over by drug dealers or when you get the feeling that something just isn’t quite right. Feed that information to us, or anonymously through Crimestoppers, and we will act.”
If you believe you may be a victim of exploitation or know someone who is further information or support can be provided by the organisations below:
Catch 22 is a specialist support and rescue service for young people and their families who are criminally exploited through county lines.
Safecall offers a safe space for people affected by exploitation to talk about their experiences in confidence and can also provide reassurance, support and help formulate a plan via their dedicated service.
Young people can contact Crimestopper's via Fearless to access non-judgemental information and advice.