UK police arrest 1,100 suspects in clampdown on crime networks

At least 1,100 suspects were arrested and more than 300 weapons seized across the UK in a clampdown on crime networks, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said Thursday.

The round-up of suspects was part of an intensification week by police forces in a clampdown on so-called County Line networks in which drugs are exported from major cities and imported into other areas, often using vulnerable adults and children, Xinhua news agency quoted the NPCC as saying on Thursday.

The operation, from May 17-23, included the execution of warrants, joint operations between police forces and intercepting vehicles potentially involved in county lines activity.

Latest figures suggest there are 600 potential county lines per month, which is a reduction due to more accurate recording methods and improved police activity.

The National Crime Agency (NCA), working as part of the intensification week, said recent successes include seizing 500 kg of cocaine in a shipping container at London Gateway and preventing it from reaching the country’s streets.

The NCA said a truck driver has been charged by police accused of smuggling 107 kg of cocaine, with a street value of $12 million into Britain on a ferry from the Netherlands.

NPCC spokesperson, deputy assistant commissioner Graham McNulty, said the police response to County Lines has increased substantially over the past 18 months.

“It is vital that everyone looks out for the signs of exploitation. This may be a child with unexplained cash, a new expensive phone or clothing, suddenly going missing, in possession of rail tickets or taxi receipts, a change in behaviour and new people suddenly appearing at a house or flat,” McNulty added.