BTP County Lines Taskforce arrests dad after drugs found in baby's pram
Main article content
A man suspected of using his baby boy to sneak drugs through Liverpool Lime Street station has been arrested by British Transport Police’s County Lines Taskforce.
The Taskforce works nationally, carrying out operations across England Wales and Scotland, to tackle gangs using the railway to move drugs and cash.
They stopped the man on Tuesday 12 May, as he pushed his four-day-old baby in a pram with suspected cannabis stashed in the undercarriage.
The arrest was part of the Taskforce’s latest operation in the Merseyside area, with support from Merseyside Police.
The railway network is used extensively by gangs moving drugs and cash.
The Taskforce has arrested 276 people and charged 55 in its first four months, after being set up with Home Office funding in December 2019.
More than £60,000 in drugs and £108,000 of illicit cash has been seized, and deadly weapons including a ninja star and a revolver with ammunition, have been removed from the rail network.
The aim of the force is to safeguard the vulnerable children exploited by County Lines gangs who use them as mules to move drugs and cash, and to remove this type of criminal activity from the railway network.
A large proportion of those arrested by the Taskforce for drug offences are under the age of 18 and more than half are under 24 years of age.
In January, a 14-year-old boy was arrested at Brighton station with 12 rocks of crack cocaine.
Efforts are made to safeguard any vulnerable or exploited person arrested as part of County Lines, referring them to services built to encourage and support the person away from dangerous criminal activity.
Thirteen people have been referred to the National Referral Mechanism for safeguarding since the Taskforce began.
The 27-year-old from Wigan, who was arrested at Liverpool Lime Street, was arrested on suspicion of carrying a Class B drug with intent to supply. He has been released under investigation while officers carry out further enquiries.
The baby has since been taken into the care of the social services.
Taskforce lead, Detective Superintendent Gareth Williams said: “Our Taskforce is in a unique position, we operate nationally and target County Lines activity across the railway network.
“Our experience has proven that gangs who use the railway network rely on younger people to move drugs. These individuals are victims, forced through exploitation or intimidation into desperate situations, and it’s always our priority to make support available that can get them out of harm and away from crime.
“Since December, we’ve been carrying out operations on a daily basis, always based on developing intelligence that shows where gangs are operating. We get part of our information through working in partnership with other law enforcement agencies, but also importantly through the support of the rail industry who train their staff to spot signs of exploitation.
“Key indicators include a young child travelling long distances, alone with a large amount of cash, or avoiding any sort of authority at stations. These indicators are small but invaluable and help inform where we target next. This is an evolving understanding of County Lines offending and we are prepared to tackle it, wherever the intelligence leads us.”