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Some good news in Norfolk’s war on drugs

PUBLISHED: 06:00 02 October 2020

Police carrying out a drugs raid in Suffolk. Picture: KAREN WILLIE

Police carrying out a drugs raid in Suffolk. Picture: KAREN WILLIE

KAREN WILLIE

The number of children being exploited by London gangs to move drugs into Norfolk and Suffolk has halved, despite demand for drugs being “very high” during lockdown.

Drugs, cash and mobile phones sezied by police in Suffolk in their efforts to tackle county lines. Picture: SUFFOLK POLICEDrugs, cash and mobile phones sezied by police in Suffolk in their efforts to tackle county lines. Picture: SUFFOLK POLICE

Last year, Norfolk was identified as the area where the Metropolitan Police identified the most youngsters involved in the county lines trade, with 416.

Children as young as 11 have been caught dealing drugs in the county and the movement of London dealers into places like Norfolk has been attributed to a rise in violence in recent years.

In 2019, Norwich topped the list of county cities involved in the drug trade, with 167 young people found from London.

But the latest report released by the Mayor of London’s office, called Rescue and Response, reveals those numbers have been slashed, with county figures falling by more than 50 per cent to 198, and Norwich numbers dropping by 77 per cent.

In Suffolk, the number dropped from 238 to 113 in this year’s report.

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More than 3,000 young people were identified in the report as being involved in the drugs trade.

During lockdown demand for drugs remained “very high”, it said, and police found dealers posing as key workers to avoid suspicion.

Robin Windsor-Waite, Norfolk Constabulary's county lines team lead Photo: Nick ButcherRobin Windsor-Waite, Norfolk Constabulary's county lines team lead Photo: Nick Butcher

“Young people were likely forced to work in the counties for longer and harder to meet demand, with some boroughs reporting longer missing episodes during lockdown,” the report said.

Last week, Norfolk Police’s county lines chief Robin Windsor-Waite told this newspaper that 31 heroin and crack cocaine lines had been snuffed out in less than a year after an operation was launched to enable greater collaboration between drug squads in Norfolk and London.

“A few years ago in Norfolk we were seeing an exponential growth in the number of lines operating, so we set about finding a solution to that,” explained Inspector Windsor-Waite.

“There was a conception among drug dealers and gangs that county lines was a low risk and high reward way of going about business - the remarkable work our team has done in the last year is reversing that.”

Figures released by Norfolk police earlier this year showed 242 teenagers aged from 13 to 17 were charged with possession of Class A, B and C drugs from 2015 to 2019.


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