County lines: Met Police crackdown leads to over 1,000 charges

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image copyrightMet Police
image captionMore than 200 people were arrested in September 2020 alone as part of the cross-country operation targeting drug supplies

A fresh county lines drug dealing crackdown has led to over 1,000 charges in just over a year, the Met has said.

Since November 2019, the force have closed 324 lines which originated in London and ran to county force areas.

Charges include conspiracy to supply and possession with intent to supply and supply of Class A drugs.

Met commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said it was vital police continued to "act on the undeniable link between drugs and violence".

County lines is a distribution model that involves urban gangs expanding their markets for crack cocaine and heroin into smaller towns by setting up phone lines through which they sell Class A drugs.

media captionWhat is County Lines?

Those in charge of the phone lines, known as lineholders, often recruit children and vulnerable adults into trafficking the drugs all over the country in order to avoid detection themselves.

Alongside other UK police forces, the Met said that between 1 November 2019 and 31 January 2021, 587 lineholders and their associates have been charged with a total of 1,135 drug-related offences.

Twenty people have been charged with 37 offences under modern day slavery legislation and 154 vulnerable people have been rescued, the Met added.

Dame Cressida said county lines was "much more" than drug dealing.

She added: "It causes real and visible harm to generations of young people, and the wider impact on our communities should not be underestimated.

"Alongside our work to tackle county lines and lower level supply, we remain focused on disrupting those higher up the chain and responsible for the widespread distribution of substances across the UK."

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