Officers join forces at transport hubs across Merseyside to combat County Lines drug dealing
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Officers from Merseyside and Cheshire were out in force yesterday, Tuesday 28 January, as part of a regional operation to tackle county lines drug dealing and child criminal exploitation.
With its direct links to Liverpool by both road and rail, Chester is one of the locations which is often targeted by County Lines gangs.
As part of the operation plain clothed officers from Merseyside, Cheshire and British Transport Police were deployed at a number of strategic locations across both Liverpool and Chester to help identify people who may be involved in county lines drug dealing.
These included railway stations and bus interchanges in both cities including Lime Street station, Liverpool South Parkway and Wirral stations.
In total there were four arrests for shop theft, possession with intent to supply Class B drugs and bail offences.
There were also 123 stop searches across Liverpool and Chester with 24 positive searches including recovery of a quantity of Class B drugs.
There were also six safeguarding referrals and 24 intelligence referrals.
Liverpool targeted policing inspector Katie Wilkinson said: “We know that the travel networks are frequently used by criminals who are involved in County Lines.
"We used a combination of plain-clothes and uniformed officers at all our local transport hubs to identify the people we thought to be most at risk of being involved.
"It’s important that we work in conjunction with our partners, on this occasion Cheshire Police and the British Transport Police, as it means that we can share intelligence and provide an effective policing operation.
"I would continue to encourage members of the public to come forward if they have any suspicions that someone is involved in County Lines or that a vulnerable person is at risk of being exploited.”
Chief Inspector Steve Griffiths, head of Chester Local Policing Unit, said: “Criminals don’t simply stop when they reach the boarder and this operation was part of our ongoing commitment to disrupt criminal activity and make Chester a safer place to live, work and visit.
"However, it wasn’t just about catching criminals and seizing drugs. One of the main aims was to help identify and safeguard children and vulnerable people who are being controlled and coerced into dealing drugs by organised crime gangs.
"By doing so we can offer them the support that they require and help set them on the right path for a better life.
"The operation also helped us to gather further information on how the transport network is being used by county lines criminals.”
Detective Inspector Thanh Ly, of the British Transport Police, said: "Yesterday’s operation alongside the Merseyside and Cheshire police forces is part of our on-going work to tackle County Lines drug trafficking.
"Last December, as a result of Home Office funding, we set up a dedicated taskforce who have so far made more than 100 arrests across the nation. Throughout 2020, we’ll be working with police forces nationally to continue this work and dismantle these exploitative drug gangs."
Yesterday’s operation was run in conjunction with Project Medusa - a Merseyside-led initiative which saw warrants executed at five addresses in Merseyside yesterday morning.
A total of 12 people were detained - a 21 year-old man and a 25 year-old woman were arrested on suspicion of County Lines-related drugs offences and a gas-powered firearm was recovered from an address in Anfield. The woman was given a street caution and the man was released under investigation.
Anyone with information which could assist our investigation into County Lines criminality can DM @MerPolCC, call 101 or contact the Crimestoppers line anonymously on 0800 555 111.