Police in Harrogate have arrested five people in connection with suspected “county lines” drug dealing in the town.
At around 4pm on Wednesday 6 February 2019, officers executed warrants under the Misuse of Drugs Act at two properties, one in Lincoln Grove and one in Bramham Drive.
In Bramham Drive, four males were arrested including a 42-year-old Harrogate man on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs, possession of cannabis and possessing an electric shock weapon. The three others arrested were aged 22, 18 and 16, and all from the Birmingham area. They were arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs.
In Lincoln Grove, a 53-year-old Harrogate man was arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs.
The two Harrogate men have been released while under investigation and the three from Birmingham remain in police custody.
The warrant was led by one of the force’s dedicated “county lines” teams along with local neighbourhood officers, specially trained search teams and the dog section. Armed police officers were also involved due to the suspected presence of weapons.
During the operation, the local policing team delivered letters to residents in the immediate area to explain why there was a heavy police presence.
“County lines” is the term given to a type of organised crime where drug dealers from urban areas such Manchester and the West Midlands, travel to smaller towns such as Harrogate and York, to sell drugs. They often use violence and exploitation to target vulnerable or young people, forcing them to transport and sell drugs. They are also known to take over the homes of vulnerable people – often using threats of violence – so they can use the property to store and sell drugs in a practice known as “cuckooing”. “County lines” takes its name from the mobile phone lines used by dealers to communicate between towns and advertise their drugs for sale.
Inspector Penny Taylor of Harrogate Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “Tackling county lines is a priority for North Yorkshire Police and we have a dedicated team based in Harrogate whose daily business is to disrupt drug dealing activity and safeguard vulnerable people who may be exploited by organised criminals. It’s a hidden crime and not reported in the same way as other crimes such as burglary or theft, so information from members of the public is invaluable in helping us disrupt suspected drug dealing.
“If you think it is happening in your neighbourhood, please call the police or, if you prefer to remain anonymous, you can pass information the charity Crimestoppers. Look out for the signs and please report it if you suspect it is happening. No matter how small the piece of information, it all helps us to piece together a wider picture to inform our policing activity.”
Things to look out for:
- Increased callers at a property
- Increase in cars pulling up for short periods of time
- Different accents at a property
- Increased antisocial behaviour at a property
- Not seeing the resident for long periods of time
- Unfamiliar vehicles at the property
- Windows covered or curtains closed for long periods
- Communal doors propped open
If you’re a parent or carer of children, please also look out for these signs of exploitation. The police often come across children as young as 14 who are dealing drugs. Young people often don’t realise they being exploited. If you recognise these signs, please call us:
- Persistently going missing from school or home and / or being found out of the area;
- Unexplained money, clothes, or mobile phones
- Excessive receipt of texts / phone calls
- Relationships with controlling / older individuals or groups
- Leaving home / care without explanation
- Suspicion of physical assault / unexplained injuries
- Carrying weapons
- Significant decline in school results / performance
- Gang association or isolation from peers or social networks
- Self-harm or significant changes in emotional well-being
Call North Yorkshire Police on 101. If you prefer not to speak to the police and wish to remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. If you or another person is in immediate danger, always call 999.
DO NOT approach anyone you suspect is being involved in drug dealing, but all the police.
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