The UK’s Home Secretary has praised the crackdown on drug dealing by the British Transport Police and other forces.
The BTP created the dedicated County Lines Taskforce in 2019 following funding from the Home Office.
The taskforce is the only force that tackles the drug dealing issue nationally, carrying out operations at train stations across England, Wales and Scotland.
The forces have carried out 657 arrests since November – with the British Transport Police accounting for 276 of those arrests.
The force has also seized £63,000 in drugs, £108,000 in cash and removed 38 weapons from the railway.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “I am determined to roll up county lines drugs gangs and stop them from terrorising our towns and exploiting our children. “I have seen first-hand the important work the police are doing to tackle county lines, and these impressive results show just how much of an impact our investment is having. The police will always have my backing in tackling this threat and, crucially, protecting victims.”
Detective Superintendent Gareth Williams, the BTP Taskforce lead, said: “Our Taskforce is in a unique position. We carry out operations nationally across England, Wales and Scotland and have built a strong understanding of how this issue is impacting communities. These operations have also helped us determine that younger people, when compared to other forces, are exploited on the railway network. A large portion of our arrests are under the age of 18 and more than half are under 24 years of age. The main aims of this Taskforce are to safeguard these young people, pull them away from crime, and remove this type of criminal activity away from the railway network. The help of the railway industry here has been absolutely invaluable. As we operate they’ve been training their staff to spot signs of exploitation and the intelligence they have provided has been used to inform where we target next.”
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