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Crimestoppers: How you can help stop county line drug dealing in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 06:00 25 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:12 25 March 2019

Police break into a house for Operation Gravity searching for suspected drugs users. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Police break into a house for Operation Gravity searching for suspected drugs users. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Crimestoppers has today launched a campaign encouraging people to provide information about county line drug dealing while remaining anonymous.

Police hunt through room a part of Operation Gravity searching for suspected drugs users. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPolice hunt through room a part of Operation Gravity searching for suspected drugs users. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The term county lines refers to gangs from major cities moving into a new area and taking control of the local drug trade through violence and intimidation.

In Norfolk, there has been more than 1,000 arrests linked to county line dealing since December 2016, with the number of ‘lines’ cut from about 50 to 27.

However, according to Norfolk police’s chief constable, Simon Bailey, the use of Class A drugs in the county is believed to have remained stable.

Now, independent charity Crimestoppers is looking to highlight the vital role the community has to play in identifying vulnerable adults and children, as well as helping to gather evidence of illegal drug dealing.

Its Advan campaign, which will tour around Norfolk this week, encourages people to provide information on criminals.

The campaign will also use a series of `spot the signs’ social media tools and posters to highlight the issue.

Phil Breckon, eastern regional manager for Crimestoppers, said: “The term county lines is one that many people are only just becoming familiar with, so our charity is keen to raise awareness so we can prevent vulnerable people from being exploited and help keep our communities safe.

“When drug gangs set up their operations in Norfolk we know that your information can make all the difference in helping to have them removed. Our charity doesn’t judge or ask for person details. We guarantee that you will stay 100% anonymous. Always.”

County line drug gangs use a single telephone number, operated from outside the local area, to sell their drugs.

It has a huge impact on communities in cities and towns across Norfolk, and on vulnerable children and adults recruited from outside the county.

They then transport and sell drugs in Norfolk, bringing the cash proceeds back, so that the criminals controlling them can remain hidden and far harder to arrest.

After moving into an area, they often set up a base in the area by taking over the home of a vulnerable person through ‘cuckooing’.

Crimestoppers said the signs to look out for that someone might be linked to county line dealing include:

• Change in behaviour

• Signs of assault and/or malnutrition

• Access to numerous phones

• Use of unusual terms e.g. going country

• Associating with gangs

• Unexplained bus/train tickets

• School truancy/Missing

• Unexplained gifts (clothes, trainers) and cash

The Advan campaign will be visiting the following locations 9am to 5pm each day:

• Monday, March 25 – Goodman Square, Norwich

• Tuesday, March 26 - Great Yarmouth Market Place

• Wednesday, March 27 – Suffolk Square, Norwich

• Thursday, March 28 - King’s Lynn train station

• Friday, March 29 – Riverside Road/Norwich Train Station

Anyone with information can contact Crimestoppers 100pc anonymously on 0800 555 111 or use the anonymous online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org

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