North Yorkshire Police has joined forces with a number of organisations and agencies to help raise awareness of county lines to trial a new scheme in Scarborough.
Officers have already had an input at a parents’ evening at one school which they say was well received by parents and plans are now in place to offer to all schools in the borough.
North Yorkshire said its two key priorities are preventing child criminal exploitation where young people are groomed by dealers before being forced to transport and sell drugs on their behalf and “cuckooing” where drug dealers use violence to take over a vulnerable person’s home to store and sell drugs.
Inspector Graeme Kynman, from North Yorkshire Police, said: “Preventing young people from getting caught up in the dangerous world of illegal drugs is a foremost priority for North Yorkshire Police,
“The force has adapted the “Trapped” campaign to help raise awareness among teenagers of the dangerous and frightening consequences of getting involved in drug dealing believing its “easy” money. We have also teamed up with North Yorkshire County Council to promote their drug awareness video that tells the story of a North Yorkshire teenager who was threatened into selling drugs in another county.”
A Community Impact Team has now been formed in Scarborough to disrupt county lines dealing and protect vulnerable people. Police, along with professionals from Scarborough Borough Council, housing providers and drug and alcohol outreach workers have visited known “cuckooing” victims and those who are at risk,
The visits are intended to check on the welfare of vulnerable residents, to look for signs of drug dealing activity, gather information from the surrounding area and to provide advice and support around a range of issues from help with drug dependency to breaches of tenancy agreements.
The police also make use of cease and desist notices, which is a warning to a householder where it is suspected drug dealing is taking place, that they will face prosecution if they don’t prevent the illegal activity from taking place.
Inspector Kynman said: “Cuckooing victims are often drug users themselves or have mental or physical health problems, and are targeted because of their vulnerability. By working together in the Community Impact Team we have a range of resources and expertise to hand that can not only help to disrupt criminal activity but also provide help and support to people who need to escape the cycle of drugs and alcohol.”
Sandra Rees, community safety and safeguarding manager at Scarborough Borough Council said it is vital people work together to stop the exploitation of vulnerable people.
She said: “County Lines drug dealing is one of the biggest threats to our communities.
“We can’t stop the exploitation of vulnerable people in isolation.
“The range of specialisms across the CIT team means we can address the issues from all angles whether it’s criminal behaviour or drug addiction.”