The imposing of restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus has enabled the police to devise new tactics to halt drug dealing.
During the lockdown, the police had managed to bring the expansion of `country lines` drug dealing to halt. This has affected most drug dealing operations across the country as drug dealers were not able to communicate with clients.
These `country lines` have been used by drug dealers to expand illegal operations from cities to rural areas such as Norfolk, inciting violence and plaguing the areas with drugs from London and other cities.
Officers have been targeting those controlling the lines in London via their pay-as-you-go mobile phones instead of going after the runners sent to rural areas. These proactive tactics have brought the expansion of `country lines` drug dealing into reverse.
As of today, the police have managed to shut 30 out of 75 lines in Norfolk, as well as tracing and arresting those who controlled the lines. Det Insp Robin Windsor-Waite, the officer leading Norfolk police’s efforts, said: “It is a massive rollback.”
“As those controlling the networks are commonly based outside the county, they may have a feeling of impunity, believing they’re beyond our reach and being careful not to attract the attention of their home force. To successfully tackle county lines criminality, we need to arrest the controlling minds rather than the mules and street dealer”, he said.
Most of these drug-dealing gangs have been recruiting youngsters to supply their drugs. A number of teenagers recruited worked as runners who would transport drugs in clingfilm wraps within their body and take cash back to London in the same way.
Windsor-Waite said: “The cash proceeds are carried in the same way … Sadly, this has become ‘normalised’ amongst the children and young people involved. This is driving the exploitation. If you move small amounts of a commodity, it’s a lot safer, but it needs lots more people. You need to move drugs every day or two.”
In an effort to save child victims arriving at Norfolk`s train stations from London, Norfolk police have adopted behavioural science tactics developed to fight terrorism.