Aggressive, ruthless and deadly - Norfolk's chief constable on county lines drugs

The new temporary chief constable for Norfolk, Paul Sanford.

The new temporary chief constable for Norfolk, Paul Sanford. - Credit: Norfolk Constabulary

County lines drug dealing which resulted in the fatal stabbing of one dealer by another gang member in a turf war has been described as aggressive, ruthless and deadly by Norfolk's chief constable.

In a statement about county lines drug dealing Norfolk's chief constable Paul Sanford said: "I have served this county as a police officer for more than 22 years and I have never seen such an aggressive, ruthless and at times deadly, drug dealing operation as we now see in the county lines model."

Mr Sanford issued the statement before Amrik Singh, 19, a member of the Frankie 'county lines' group was sentenced for a total of six years after admitting the manslaughter of David Lawal, a rival drug dealer in Thetford in 2019.

Amrik Singh who has admitted the manslaughter of David Lawal.

Amrik Singh who has admitted the manslaughter of David Lawal. - Credit: Norfolk Constabulary/Archant

The 25-year-old was stabbed to death after he went to confront members of the Frankie group about drug dealing in Thetford.

David Lawal

David Lawal was stabbed to death on Brandon Road in Thetford in October 2019. - Credit: Norfolk Constabulary/Archant

Mr Sanford continued: "In recent years I have seen serious assaults linked to county lines drug dealing operations being played out on our streets.

The new temporary chief constable for Norfolk, Paul Sanford.

The new temporary chief constable for Norfolk, Paul Sanford. - Credit: Norfolk Constabulary

“Disputes and arguments are no longer settled with fists, but with knives, blades and at times firearms.

“As Norfolk crime figures reflect, the level of violence has increased dramatically.

“It appears to me, that within these operations, the exploiters regard life much less significantly and clearly care not for those of which they easily dispense of.”

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Norfolk Constabulary launched Operation Gravity in December 2016 in an effort to disrupt and prevent county lines drug dealing in towns and villages across the county.

Detective Chief Inspector Sonia Humphreys said that by raising the awareness of the “signs to look for” the force has been able to build a clearer picture about who is supplying drugs, exploiting vulnerable children and adults, as well as identify measures to support appropriate safeguarding. 

Norwich chief inspector Sonia Humphreys. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary

Detective chief inspector Sonia Humphreys. - Credit: Archant

She said: “Operation Orochi, as part of Operation Gravity, has in the past two years closed 52 county lines with 77 people being charged and over £155,000 in cash recovered. There have been 45 convictions as a result, coming to a total sentencing date of 177 years and two months.”

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