Norfolk tops table of counties for London drug gangs
PUBLISHED: 08:06 20 September 2019 | UPDATED: 09:14 20 September 2019
More drug dealers from London have been identified in Norfolk than any other county in the country.
Norwich, meanwhile, tops the table of cities and towns for the number of Londoners linked to 'county lines' drug dealing.
The figures, released by the Mayor of London on Thursday, show that more than 4,000 people have been recruited by drug gangs in the capital to run networks spread across 41 counties in the UK.
The criminal networks, known as county lines, target children and vulnerable adults to courier drugs from cities.
Almost half of those identified were aged between 15 and 19 (46pc) and 90pc were male.
Coastal areas and county towns near London have the highest number of links back to gangs in London, the report said, but Norfolk was the exception to that.
Between January 2018 and April 2019, 416 people from London were linked to county lines in Norfolk, including 167 in Norwich and 34 in Great Yarmouth.
Suffolk was the sixth highest county in the table with 238 people.
The figures include people arrested for dealing and where intelligence has linked them to county lines.
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A Norfolk police spokesman said the figures showed the force was responding to the threat of London drug gangs, but denied Norfolk was a target.
The spokesman added: "For almost three years Norfolk Police has proactively targeted criminals coming into the county to deal Class A crack cocaine and heroin and exploit those most vulnerable members of our community.
"In that time we have made almost 1,400 arrests, with a large proportion of those individuals coming from London Boroughs, as well as sharing intelligence with our colleagues at the Metropolitan Police."
On Tuesday the latest county lines gang was jailed.
The 'Chase' line moved in to Great Yarmouth to fill a gap in the market earlier this year.
Shaun Ellis, 26, ran the line, which is estimated to have made more than £124,000 over a four-month period.
While he was serving in Wayland Prison, he got a second man, Nathan Hamilton to run the business for him.
Investigations revealed two boys aged 15 and 16 had been brought to Norfolk to sell drugs, driven by Hamilton, 29.
Hamilton was jailed for ten years and nine months, while Ellis was jailed for 11 years and eight months,
Rebecca White, from social enterprise Your Own Place which helps vulnerable youngsters, said a more holistic approach was needed to deter young people from drug gangs.
"We have to have the right services in place," she said. "Keeping them safe requires building relationships."