( A video to explain North Yorkshire Police's Operation Roll)
A senior police officer is asking members of the public to understand the signs of “county lines” drug dealing.
Police in Harrogate have identified a pattern of increased drug dealing and associated violent crime. A new “county line” which is believed to originate from West Yorkshire is trafficking drugs into Harrogate via the road network and public transport.
In response to this issue, officers launched ‘Operation Roll,’ at the start of June to target offenders and protect the most vulnerable in local communities. In the first four weeks, nine arrests have been made, from the nine, four have been charged and remanded (see the below arrest round up for further details). The team have also seized a taser, suspected drugs, cash and a mobile phone from the streets of Harrogate.
County Lines is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks who are involved in exporting illegal drugs, using dedicated mobile phone lines or other forms of a ‘deal line’. A county line is often run by a gang who are usually associated with violence, drug dealing and exploitation.
(Police Officers from Harrogate’s Operation Expedite Team on patrol in Harrogate)
Several specialist officers are assigned to the proactive operation including neighbourhood policing officers, detectives, intelligence teams and officers from Operation Expedite – North Yorkshire Police’s Proactive Policing Team - who are working together to target and disrupt this new drug line. They are currently working around the clock to gather intelligence, carry out warrants, patrol the county’s borders and intercept criminals. The team operate predominantly in plain clothes and unmarked vehicles. A police dog which is trained to detect drugs is also being deployed to work at transport hub in Harrogate to intercept the supply of drugs by train and bus.
The operation is led by Harrogate’s Crime Commander, Detective Chief Inspector Fionna McEwan. She said:
“Harrogate is one of the safest places to live in the country, but we must not become complacent. This type of drug-related crime has no place in our community.
“I would like to reassure the public that I don’t believe there is a significant risk to local communities.
“The increased level of violence that we have seen recently has been targeted towards individuals who are involved in drug-related criminality.
“Driving this gang out of Harrogate is now a key priority for us and although we have seen success so far, there is more to be done.
“As always, and especially with drug related crime, I urge members of the public to help us by being vigilant and checking in on the younger and vulnerable people in our communities.
“Please look out for your neighbours, friends and relatives and know how to spot the signs if a person is at risk of Cuckooing. And please keep an eye out for the signs that younger or vulnerable people may be exploited by gangs and coerced into drug dealing for them”.
Assault - Dragon Road, Harrogate – Thursday 08 June 2023.
A man in 20s was assaulted on Dragobn Road in Harrogate. Following this he sustained a serious injury to his leg.
An 18-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of causing a wounding and possession of an offensive weapon in a public place.
A second man, also aged 18, was arrested on suspicion of causing a wounding, possession of an offensive weapon in a public place, possession with intent to supply class A drugs, and possession of criminal property.
A third man, aged 52, was arrested on suspicion of processing criminal property and assisting an offender.
All three men were charged and remanded in custody to appear in court on York Crown Court on Monday July 10 2023.
(NYP Ref – 12230104602)
Police Stop – Chelmsford Avenue, Harrogate - Friday 23 June 2023. - At 9pm officers from Operation Expedite were on routine patrol on Chelmsford Avenue when they identified three men suspected to be linked to county lines drug dealing. The three men spotted the officers and ran away. The team managed to detain two of the three men.
An 18-year-old man was in possession of a taser, 22 wraps of cocaine, £85 in cash and two mobile phones. He was arrested on suspicion of procession with intent to supply a class-A drug and possession of a weapon. He was charged and remanded in custody to appear at York Crown Court on Monday 31 July 2023.
A 19-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of a class – A drug and possession of criminal property. He was interviewed and released on conditional bail while further enquiries are carried out.
Enquiries are continuing to locate the outstanding suspect.
(NYP Ref – 12230115980)
Police Warrant - King Edward Drive, Harrogate - 26 June 2023 - Officers acted on intelligence and executed a warrant at a property on King Edwards Drive in Harrogate. When they entered the property, a man was seen dropping mobile phone into a toilet.
A 29-year-old man and a 40-year-old man were both arrested for supplying cocaine and a modern slavery offence. A 35-year-old man was arrested for possession of a suspected class- A drug and modern slavery. They were all interviewed and bailed with conditions which prevent them from entering North Yorkshire.
(NYP Ref - 12230118198)
Assault - Bower Road, Harrogate – 26 June 2023 -A man in his 30s was assaulted and received an injury to his face. A 41-year-old was arrested and later released. Enquiries are continuing.
(NYP Ref – 12230118424)
SPOT THE SIGNS
Cuckooing is the term given when drug dealers take over the home of a vulnerable person and use it at a base to sell and store drugs, often using violence and intimidation to achieve this. Cuckooing victims are often drug users themselves, or people who are vulnerable due to a mental or physical disability, their age or lifestyle.
So please look out for your vulnerable neighbours and report any concerns you have.
Signs of cuckooing to look out for include:
Increased callers at a property at all times of the day or night
Increase in cars pulling up for short periods of time
Different accents at a property
Antisocial behaviour at a property
Not seeing the resident for long periods of time
Drug-related rubbish – small plastic bags, syringes
Windows covered or curtains closed for long periods
Unexplained or untreated injuries
Children are groomed and exploited to deal drugs on behalf of organised criminals. These are the signs to look out for:
Persistently going missing from school or home and / or being found out-of-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
Significant decline in school results / performance
Gang association or isolation from peers or social networks
Self-harm or significant changes in emotional well-being
Travelling long distances on public transport - is it term time? Should they be in school? Are they paying high cost fares with cash?
Anyone with concerns about county lines can speak to their local police on 101 or call 999 in an emergency. If you’d rather stay anonymous you can call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
If you are a young person who is worried about being involved in county lines, or knows someone who is, you can speak to an adult and let them know how you feel.
You can also contact www.fearless.org who allow you to pass on information about crime anonymously.
You can also contact Childline on 0800 1111 – they are a private and confidential service where you can talk to counsellors about anything that is worrying you.
Get help for drug addiction
North Yorkshire Rise – young people's specialist drug and alcohol service- freephone 08000 14 14 80 (option 2).
North Yorkshire Horizons - adult specialist drug and alcohol service - freephone 08000 14 14 80 – nyhorizons.org.uk