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Six arrest in York linked to “county lines” drug dealing

Last modified: 15 November 2018 at 06:24pm

Police in York have arrested six people in the past five days as they continue to crack down on so-called “county lines” drug dealing.

Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology has been instrumental in locating suspects travelling in and out of the area, while others were found thanks to concerns raised about a disturbance at property in York.

In the first incident on the evening of 10 November 2018, three people were arrested, including two 17-year-olds boys and a 21-year-old man from Liverpool who were found at a property in York following a report of a disturbance at the property. They were taken into custody and the 21-year-old was remanded in custody and charged with possessing class B drugs and obstructing the police. One of the 17-year-olds was issued with a caution and the other released without charge.

In a separate incident on the afternoon of 14 November, ANPR showed a vehicle believed to be linked to county lines drug dealing travelling out of the area. On its return to North Yorkshire officers stopped the car on the A64 near Bilborough. The two occupants of the car, two men in their thirties, one (37) from York and the (34) other from Liverpool were arrested. The 37-year-old was arrested on suspicion of three burglaries, of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs and fraud by false representation. The man from Liverpool was arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs. Both were released but remain under investigation for the offences.

In a third incident in the early hours of 15 November, a 17-year-old boy from Manchester was arrested on suspicion of possessing class A drugs after ANPR flagged up a vehicle travelling along Tadcaster Road in York and believed to be linked to county lines drug activity. He remains in police custody.

Safeguarding measures were also instigated in relation to some of the people involved.

Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras work by reading a vehicles registration number and flagging it up to the police if it is connected to criminal activity or vulnerable or missing people.

It helps the police prevent crime, arrest suspects, find missing or vulnerable people and provides evidence to help criminal prosecutions.

County lines drug dealing is a form of organised crime where criminals from urban areas such as Manchester, Liverpool, West Yorkshire and the West Midlands, force children and young people to travel to county towns such as York and Scarborough to do their drug dealing for them. It also involves a practice known as cuckooing where drug dealers use threats of violence to take over the homes of vulnerable people and use it to store and sell drugs.

It takes its name from the phone lines used by the criminals to communicate with their “customers” and take orders. Tackling county lines is a foremost priority for North Yorkshire Police and information from members of the public is invaluable in helping us safeguard vulnerable people, disrupt criminal activity and bring the suspects to justice.

We therefore ask members of the public to call in with any information about suspicious activity in your area, including cuckooing and child exploitation.

These are the things to look out for at properties in your area: 

  • 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. Often not realising they are 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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