Kent Police dismantles almost 60 County Line drug operations since 2020

Kent Police smashing County Line drug networks

Kent Police has dismantled almost 60 County Line drug operations in the county since 2020.

Work by Kent Police and its County Line and Gangs Team has resulted in a 72% decrease from 82 drug lines in 2020 to 23 operating in the Kent as of this month.

County Line gangs are criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into supply areas -such as Thanet- using dedicated mobile phone lines -known as deal lines- to take orders.

Mass marketing text messages are used to advertise the availability of drugs with dealers offering promotions – such as two for one – or free samples in return for contact details for more potential users.

Gangs exploit vulnerable people, including children and those with mental health or addiction issues, by recruiting them to distribute the drugs. They may also use a vulnerable person’s home as their base of operations, known as ‘cuckooing’.

Zero tolerance

Detective Chief Inspector Nicola Ross from the County Line and Gangs Team said: “We take a zero-tolerance approach to drug-related crime and work relentlessly to bring offenders to justice.

“As of 3 January 2024, there were 23 county lines operating in Kent, compared to 82 in 2020, when the County Line and Gangs Team was formed. This is thanks to the work Kent Police officers do day in day out to arrest and deter drug dealers from targeting our towns.

“We run a variety of operations to target those who bring associated criminality to Kent, including drugs but also other linked offences such as violent crime.

“Since 2022 we have made 574 arrests, secured 940 individual charges and a total of 497 years in prison sentences.

“We know the detrimental impact the misuse of drugs can have on people’s lives, and we are sending out a very clear message to criminals that this behaviour will not be tolerated.”

National picture

Nationally, more than 2,000 County Lines have been dismantled in the last 18 months, says the government.

Between April 2022 and September this year, more than 4,000 arrests have been made across the country, whilst 4,800 vulnerable people caught up in operations have been offered support to turn their lives around.

Between April and September 2023, some 700 lines were dismantled, 1,300 arrests made and 1,600 victims were supported.

The Home Office launched the County Lines Programme in 2019. A key part of the programme lies in victim support to ensure that young people and their families have the support they need as they escape these gangs.

Since the start of the programme, the Home Office has invested up to £5 million in support services like Catch22 and Missing People, which carries out crucial work to help vulnerable individuals and families.

Find out about Catch22 in Kent here

Reporting it

If you’re concerned about drug-related crime or think someone may be a victim of drug exploitation, call 101.

If it’s an emergency, call 999. If you have a hearing or speech impairment, use textphone service 600660. Or text 999 if you’ve pre-registered with the emergencySMS service.

If you’re in danger but you can’t talk on the phone, you should still call 999, then follow these instructions for a silent call depending on whether you’re calling from a mobile or a landline.

You can also report it online, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via crimestoppers-uk.org.

County Lines gangs preying on Thanet youngsters and the work being done to tackle them

10 Comments

  1. i fear they have just scratched the surface of the drug problem in thanet , everywhere you look you can see the graffiti denoting thier areas and tags

  2. Drug dealers are a cancer and need to be eradicated. Having lived a couple of doors down from a teenage drug dealer I can honestly say that it is a living hell, the paraphernalia left on the street, the mopeds, the noise, the crime that comes with it, its unbearable.

    Drug dealers and the Junkies only care for themselves and are a danger to the younger kids. They really should be exterminated as they offer society nothing other than misery.

    • There’s a chunky lad who regularly drops off to the crack/smackheads on the benches across from the school gates of clarendon house/thompsons passage. He rides a blue and white moped with L plates and wears a big black puffa coat. Same one, I wonder?

  3. You don’t have to be a “do gooder” to think that the state exterminating people is a bad idea, and not an answer to society’s problems, surely?
    The regimes of Nazi Germany, Stalin’s Russia and Pol Pot in Cambodia were all quite keen on exterminating people, and they tended to employ petty criminals to do the exterminating. Should the government find Eric or Concerned had a Jewish ancestor maybe, or were deemed disabled, too old, or intellectuals (unlikely that one), they might find themselves on the edge of a mass grave they’d been forced to dig, about to be shot in the head by a drug dealer.
    So rant away, chaps, if it makes you feel better, but be careful what you wish for.

  4. What a waste of police time and money! Decriminalise drugs, and the dealers won’t have anything to sell! It works well in Portugal, and elsewhere, and the money saved could be spent on more police solving crime that doesn’t involve drugs. Most burglars are junkies.

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