Crimestoppers launches North West Leicestershire campaign to tackle County Lines drug gangs

By Ashby Nub News Reporter

22nd May 2024 | Local News

Photo: © Syda Productions | Dreamstime.com
Photo: © Syda Productions | Dreamstime.com

Crimestoppers UK has launched a new campaign in North West Leicestershire to highlight the signs of serious organised drug crime - and encourage communities to pass on concerns anonymously to the charity.

The four-week campaign warns that organised criminal gangs are targeting young and vulnerable people, to exploit them for criminal gains.

Crimestoppers says the gangs find out the vulnerabilities of young people before selling a lifestyle.

Loyalty is then tested, often through asking for favours and offering a sense of protection, in return for couriering illegal drugs and money across cities, towns and villages - a practice known as 'County Lines'. 

Once involved in this lifestyle, victims are exploited and trapped through fear, debt bondage, trafficking, isolation from family and friends, psychological and sometimes physical and sexual abuse.

Crimestoppers says it is encouraging anyone with information about organised drug gangs to contact them, 100 per cent anonymously, by calling 0800 555 111 at any time or by completing a secure online form or Fearless.org for young people, where more can also be learnt about the warning signs of County Lines activity. 

It adds that those that are buying illegal drugs are funding the lifestyle of organised criminal gangs who are trafficking vulnerable and exploited people in order to sell the drugs.

Lydia Patsalides, Crimestoppers East Midlands Regional Manager said: "We know that County Lines drug gangs are luring young and vulnerable people by gaining their trust, only to trap them into a lifestyle of exploitation through violence, abuse, blackmail and debt bondage. 

"These gangs are expanding their networks quickly, with the levels of violence and exploitation also increasing. This campaign will remind people that we can all play our part in stopping organised crime and keeping people safe.

"We are asking people to remain vigilant to the signs of grooming and we are appealing to everyone to help protect members in our community from County Lines activity by telling Crimestoppers anonymously what you know about criminal drug gangs."

Councillor Michael Wyatt, Chair of the Safer North West Leicestershire Community Safety Partnership (CSP) added: "As Chair of the CSP, I am dedicated to ensuring the safety of the district and this campaign further highlights our support for residents.

"County Lines is very dangerous, and I urge anybody to use the services provided by Crimestoppers; it takes information anonymously, it's free and it could help protect many vulnerable residents.

"With help from Crimestoppers, together we can put an end to drug abuse and create a safer North West Leicestershire."

     

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