Bedfordshire Police have released details of a secret operation to target callous drug dealers exploiting children and vulnerable people in county lines drug networks.
Drugs, weapons and burner phones were seized by police in a week-long Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) operation targeting the phone lines used to sell drugs across the county and catch those behind them.
This included seizing 174 individual wraps of heroin and 262 individual deals of crack cocaine at an address in Bedford
Across Bedfordshire, eight knives were seized and five people were arrested, whereas across the East of England the operation saw:
- 35 drugs lines have been taken down
- 151 people arrested
- 34 dangerous weapons (including 17 knives) seized
- 55 vulnerable children and adults safeguarded
Detective Inspector Tom Stean, from Bedfordshire Police’s intel team, said: “County drugs lines cause significant harm in our communities.
“Not just for the users at the bottom of the chain, but also for the string of other vulnerable and younger people who are exploited so that the organised criminals at the top maximise their profit without a thought of the destruction they’ve caused.
“The operational results are key to tackling the flow of drugs into Bedfordshire.”
Publication of these results coincides with today’s (Friday) national child exploitation awareness day.
It also marks the start of a major #EndChildExploitation campaign by Bedfordshire Police and a range of partner agencies.
This will involve police visits to schools, talks with parents, and presence out in communities and online to raise awareness about everything from cannabis edibles and apps to help and support young people.
You can download or use these apps at the following links.
Is This Ok:
Developed between the charities Missing People and Childline
Developed by the Mary Seacole housing association and the Luton Youth Offending Service
Bedfordshire Police say tackling organised crime gangs driving child exploitation remains the key focus for their officers.
Bedfordshire Police’s county-wide Bedfordshire Against Violence and Exploitation (BAVEX) campaign, aims to raise awareness around things like modern slavery, cuckooing, child sexual exploitation and county lines.
“…our wider educational work with partners and communities across the county is equally as important,” added DI Stean.
“To truly tackle drug crime there needs to be a joined-up approach between a wide range of stakeholders to tackle the root cause of the problems, and that’s what we’re working towards.”
The Bedfordshire Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) will also be supporting ongoing education into the dangers of gangs and how to look out for
“Child exploitation awareness day is an important occasion for us all to reflect on how we can safeguard young people and end child exploitation,” said Lisa Robinson, manager of Bedfordshire VERU.
“Sadly, vulnerable children in our communities are being exploited. This might be through sexual abuse, online or by criminal gangs.
“We all need to work together to protect children and young people, tell different agencies what we know and together we can all make a difference to the lives of the next generation.”
If you have concerns about gangs, knife crime and child criminal exploitation you can contact the Bedfordshire Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) at bedsveru.org.
Anyone with any information about drug dealing is asked to report it at Bedfordshire Police’s website.
This information is fed into police intelligence systems and helps officers build up a picture of organised crime, even if they do not act on the information straight away.
You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously at crimestoppers-uk.org