A senior officer from Warwickshire Police is urging the public to be on the lookout for signs of county lines drug dealing.
County lines is a term used to describe gangs transporting drugs from bigger cities into smaller towns. This is a national problem involving drug gangs operating from cities including Birmingham, London, Manchester and Liverpool.
Warwickshire Police recently launched its Protect initiative which aims to tackle and disrupt county lines crime and other forms of serious organised crime.
The force has a number of proactive operations running aimed at disrupting county lines drug dealing and bringing offenders to justice.
The request to the public comes after five men from Warwickshire and Birmingham were sentenced to a total of more than 20 years in prison for their role in a county lines operation importing drugs into Warwickshire from Birmingham.
Police are urging people to look out for the following signs:
•Children or young people going missing from home or school.
•Changes in a person’s behaviour or emotional wellbeing.
•Children or young people socialising with unfamiliar people.
•A person starting to abuse drugs and alcohol.
•Someone acquiring money they can’t account for.
•Someone buying expensive goods they can’t afford.
•Lone children visiting from outside the area.
•Someone with multiple phones, tablets or SIM cards.
•Unknown or suspicious people going into a neighbour’s house – especially if that neighbour is vulnerable.
Detective Chief Inspector Neil Reader said: “We are getting very good at disrupting county lines gangs operating in Warwickshire and bringing the key players to justice.
“However, we also need the people’s help; the public are our eyes and ears in the community and it is important they are looking our for the signs of county lines drug dealing and report it to the police.
“County lines criminals tend to target youngsters and vulnerable people, getting them to deal drugs. This is why we are asking people to look out for the signs. On their own, each of these signs may not be suspicious but put them together with changes in behaviour it could be a sign of county lines drug dealing.
“If you have any suspicions please call the police. Your piece of information, no matter how small, might be the final piece of the jigsaw that means we can take action.”
If you have any information that could help police tackle county lines drug crime please call 101. Alternatively, information can be provided anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.