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Over 1,000 people arrested and almost 300 weapons seized as part of county lines crackdown by the National Crime Agency

View profile for Colin Rawson
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County lines is a drugs distribution model using mobile phones and sometimes young and vulnerable individuals where drugs are exported from major cities to various locations across the United Kingdom. 

The National Crime Agency have recently reported that as part of this crackdown:

  • 904 cuckooed addresses were visited (Cuckooing is when a drug dealer or a gang takes over a vulnerable adult's address for criminal purposes)
  • 1,138 vulnerable people were engaged for safeguarding purposes
  • 292 weapons seized including 33 firearms and 219 knives
  • 80 drug lines were identified from seized mobile phones

The intensification week took place between Monday 17 May and Sunday 23 May and included the execution of warrants, joint operations between forces and intercepting vehicles potentially involved in county lines activity.

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for county lines, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty, said: “The police response to county lines has increased substantially over the past 18 months, we have been relentless in pursuing those behind the line whilst doing everything possible to rescue those being exploited.

“Intensification weeks like this allow us to dedicate a burst of activity and resources nationally, highlighting to the public our absolute determination to rid communities of this abhorrent crime.

“We will use all the powers available to us to tackle every element of the county line network because we know the effect violence and crimes associated with county lines can have in our communities.

In addition to this operation, the National Crime Agency are continuing with arrests in relation to the Encro mobile phone network- encryption service - The cracking of EncroChat.

From late June 2020 to present, thousands of individuals have been arrested following an international investigation that cracked the Encro encryption service.  Legal arguments are still ongoing in Courts in the UK over admissibility of this evidence.  Police forces have been granted funding for the next 2 years to continue with their investigations.  Arrests will still  continue to be made. 

The encryption telephone service is recognised by a username rather than a telephone number.  Unlike a standard contract phone, the phones are not registered and the users of the service simply communicate by a username.  The police have the messages per username and try to establish attribution by following movements/ messages by;

  • Cell siting mobile phone data from a registered mobile phone to the Encro phone
  • Reference to individual messages to see if personal information has been given (phone numbers, addresses, reference to family members)
  • References to cars and checking DVLA/ Insurance records
  • Cross referencing social media posts
  • Identifying locations from pictures on the encrypted phone

Our criminal offence solicitors are currently representing a number of individuals who have been arrested or charged with these types of offences. If you do require our assistance please do not hesitate to complete an online enquiry form or contact the team on 0161 696 6188.