Young people groomed as runners for city drug dealers, Cambridgeshire police say, ahead of county lines crackdown

PUBLISHED: 10:46 24 July 2017 | UPDATED: 10:46 24 July 2017

Cambridgeshire Police crack down on county lines dealers who prey on young and vulnerable people to deal drugs for them PHOTO: Cambs Police

Cambridgeshire Police crack down on county lines dealers who prey on young and vulnerable people to deal drugs for them PHOTO: Cambs Police

Archant

Families and friends of young and vulnerable people, groomed into drug running for city dealers, are being asked to report the abuse.

Cambridgeshire Police has today launched a week-long campaign to raise awareness of county lines criminality.

Det Insp Billy Bremner, the force’s tactical lead for county lines, hopes the awareness campaign will help victims, their friends, family and carers recognise this type of behaviour as abuse and report it to police or partner agencies.

He said: “The sad reality is that there are vulnerable adults and children in the county being groomed and forced to sell drugs.

“We need to educate and make young people aware of this type of exploitation so that we can help them make the right decisions about drugs.

“We often hear that victims of county lines criminality don’t know they are being exploited or don’t have the confidence to report it because they fear there may be consequences from the organised crime groups who force them to sell drugs.”

County Lines is when organised crime groups from big cities, mainly London, extend their drug dealing into new areas, he said.

Drug dealers get young people to deliver their drugs, by paying them or forcing them through violence and grooming.

It is a crime that can affect girls and boys, regardless of their background or culture, he added.

These young people, known as ‘runners’, travel between big cities and other areas to deliver drugs and collect cash on behalf of the dealers. They may swallow drugs to avoid police finding them, he said.

Vulnerable adults are also forced to help with the running of the county line and could have their homes taken over by dealers and used as drug dens, he said.

Police advice includes - have you seen something you think could be drug related, do you know someone who is being forced or asked to deal drugs?

Do you know someone who has a drugs debt, suspect someone is dealing drugs or seen a vehicle you think is transporting drugs?

Are lots of vehicles visiting a particular house at all times of the day and night?

Contact Crimestoppers to report anonymously online or 0800 555 111. Alternatively visit:

• Fearless - 0800 555 111

• Childline - 0800 1111

• Victim and Witness Hub - 800 7816818 or email victimandwitnesshub@cambs.pnn.police.uk.

• Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) - 0870 000 3344.

• The Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England - 020 7783 8330.

• Barnardos - 0208 550 8822.

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