Handgun seized and 68 arrested during seven days of enhanced activity tackling county lines
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A handgun and 27 other dangerous weapons were seized as British Transport Police (BTP) officers conducted a series of operations on the railway from 27 February to 5 March.
The week was coordinated by BTP’s dedicated County Lines Taskforce – a specialist police team setup to tackle county lines activity and safeguard those exploited by drug gangs.
Operations took place on key train routes and at stations across England, Scotland and Wales as uniformed and plain clothes officers teamed up with regional police forces to pursue drug offenders.
In total 75 operations were conducted on the railway, with 68 arrested and nine county lines dismantled. In addition, 14 individuals were safeguarded including 12 children.
Alongside the week of action BTP promoted the Look Closer awareness campaign which has been developed in partnership with The Children’s Society.
The campaign highlights the tell-tale signs of child exploitation, and encourages rail workers and the public to report any concerns to the police.
Detective Superintendent Gareth Williams, BTP’s County Lines Taskforce lead, said: “These results send a bold warning to drug suppliers – we will dismantle your illegal operations and bring you to justice, without exception.
“My teams are on the railway network every day, making it an extremely hostile environment for drug offenders to operate in, and ensuring those exploited to courier drugs are pulled out of harm’s way.
“I urge anyone on the rail network who spots the signs of child exploitation or drug supply to report it to us by texting 61016. No report is insignificant – each one provides us with valuable information that assists us in the fight against these offenders.”
James Simmonds-Read, National Prevention Programme Manager at The Children’s Society, said: “It’s crucial that professionals can identify when children have been exploited by criminals, so we are pleased that many vulnerable people - including young people - have been identified to receive support.
“Any child in any community can be groomed and exploited and that includes children entering adulthood.
“Everyone can play a vital role in spotting the signs of exploitation and reporting them to the police. Our Look Closer campaign encourages transport staff, commuters, dog walkers, online gamers and people working in public facing roles to report anything that doesn’t feel right. It could help a child escape a situation of horrific abuse.”
BTP’s dedicated County Lines Taskforce was setup with Home Office funding in December 2019. Since then, it’s made more than 2,300 arrests, 1,500 drug seizures and secured 24 human trafficking charges.