County lines: Police ‘well placed’ to tackle drug networks operating in Doncaster
Doncaster is not immune to so-called ‘county lines’ drug dealing networks but officers are ‘well placed’ to deal with it, a senior police boss has said.
The term is often referred to hardened drug dealers in large cities using children and vulnerable adults to push drugs in smaller communities.
The county lines phenomenon was first coined in the south-east where professional drugs gangs in London would expand into new markets such as Essex, Surrey, Berkshire and Kent.
More locally, police intelligence has shown gangs in cities like Sheffield, Leeds and Bradford are pushing drugs into smaller neighbouring towns and boroughs in Yorkshire.
Doncaster South Yorkshire Supt Neil Thomas admitted the borough has experienced the effects of county lines but officers were prepared due to its national status.
He said specific group of officers within the Serious Organised Crime group are working exclusively on the issue.
“It is a phenomenon that we have seen in Doncaster but it has not taken us by surprise,” he told councillors at a recent meeting.
“This is a national crime trend and we are well placed in Doncaster to deal with that.
“We do have a child criminal exploitation group in Doncaster. Where we’ve been particularly good previously looking at CSE (child sexual exploitation) we’re now putting similar levels of effort for CCE.
“We've carried out county lines operations very recently. We are well aware of it and we are dealing with it.
“This is a nationwide issue - previously we may have been criticised for being on the back foot and not being as quick as some of our southern forces.
“This national agenda means all forces irrespective of where they are in the country now are actually talking to each other and sharing best practice.”