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Shropshire police in week-long County Lines crackdown

By Rory Smith | Wellington | Crime | Published:

County lines drug dealers have been targeted in a week-long crackdown across Shropshire.

From May 13-20, officers in a number of towns including Telford, Whitchurch, Oswestry and Ludlow focused on disrupting county lines activity by focusing on train links, taxis and Shropshire roads used by dealers.

In Telford, West Mercia Police were joined by the British Transport Police setting up teams on the platforms at Telford Central, Oakengates and Wellington train stations and spoke to passengers getting off the train while looking out for known offenders.

Officers also joined up with Telford & Wrekin Council's taxi licensing officers to stop and speak to taxi drivers on key routes in and out of the town.

As well as ensuring taxi drivers' paperwork was in order, police spoke to them about county lines and what to do if they suspect a passenger is involved.

Police believe many dealers use taxis without the taxi driver's knowledge to move drugs around the county.

Throughout the county officers also targeted dealers using the road network to travel into Shropshire with an operation that saw them stop vehicles on key routes.

Warrants were carried out at a number of properties in Whitchurch, Oswestry, Ludlow and Telford along with one in the wider West Midlands.

Addresses identified as vulnerable to being targeted by county lines dealers were also visited by officers across the county.

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Committed

The force said dealers often target homes occupied by vulnerable people, either through drug or alcohol dependency or with mental health concerns to facilitate their drug dealing. Known as cuckooing the dealers will use the home as a base to deal drugs from before moving on to the next property.

During the week a serious and organised crime joint action group was held at Shropshire Council's Shirehall, which saw police and partners discuss the key issues with county lines and what each agency can do to play its part.

Chief Superintendent Kevin Purcell is the policing lead for West Mercia Police's local policing areas covering Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin and said the force is committed to tackling serious and organised crime, including county lines.

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He said: "Drugs and drug dealing has a significant impact on our local communities, in particular where it brings associated crime and anti-social behaviour. Unfortunately, our county is no different to similar counties across the country with smaller rural and market towns where county lines is prevalent.

"We know people are coming in from outside the area, often larger more urban towns and cities to facilitate drugs supply and that they are targeting local people who, for a number of reasons, may be vulnerable to take advantage of them and use their homes as a base.

"Teams right across the area are carrying out work to target county lines, we work very closely with our neighbouring forces along with partner agencies, such as housing providers, the local authority and drug and alcohol support services to make sure we're doing everything we can to pursue offenders and safeguard and protect those who are vulnerable."

Rory Smith

By Rory Smith
Reporter - @rorysmith_star

Trainee news reporter based at the Shropshire Star's Ketley office in Telford.

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