POLICE in West Yorkshire have arrested and charged 11 people and seized £100,000 of Class A drugs as part of a national County Lines crime crackdown.

The national intensification week took place between May 13 and May 20. 

In West Yorkshire, 11 people were arrested across the county, who have all been charged and remanded for drugs and modern slavery act offences. A vulnerable man and a vulnerable woman were also identified and safeguarded.

As part of the operation, officers seized cocaine and cash to a value of £120,000 as well as a quantity of crack cocaine.

“County Lines” is the term used to describe a form of organised crime where criminals based in urban areas pressurise vulnerable people and children to transport, store and sell drugs in smaller county towns.

The West Yorkshire activity was carried out as part of the force’s ongoing programme of action against serious and organised crime known as Programme Precision. This sees the police, partners, third-sector organisations and the public come together to tackle serious and organised crime within the force area.

This includes drugs and firearms offences, human trafficking and the exploitation of young people.

Detective Superintendent Pat Twiggs said: “West Yorkshire Police are committed to tackling all forms of criminal exploitation including county lines through our ongoing work and activity under Programme Precision.

“During the recent national intensification week we deployed specialist officers and staff to tackle the issue head on and continue to develop our response and our understanding of this issue on a daily basis.

“We are currently monitoring a small number of organised crime groups whose activity centres around County Lines crime and regularly hold strategy and review meetings to plan action and coordinate our response with neighbouring forces.

“It must really be stressed that the sort of enforcement work we have carried out as part of the NCA (National Crime Agency) week, is ongoing constantly here in West Yorkshire.”

He added: “County Lines style organised crime is insidious and the effect on communities and the individuals caught up in this kind of crime can be devastating.  We would urge anyone with information or concerns to contact West Yorkshire Police or the independent Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) said: “The exploitation of young people, in many cases by organised criminal groups running ‘County Lines’ drug related crime is starting to have a hugely detrimental impact on many communities which needs to be addressed."

He said while his Safer Communities Fund, made up from proceeds of crime, has helped projects which are tackling County Lines, gangs, weapons or serious violence, it cannot be a substitute for Government support.

“We have called on the Government to urgently address the ever-increasing number of children and young people who are being permanently excluded from mainstream education and the practice of illegal ‘off rolling’ of pupils from school rosters," he said.

“We know that these children are then potentially much more vulnerable to being exploited by criminal gangs, and all too often exposed to a vicious cycle of drugs, serious violence and knife crime.

"I and others have been highlighting these issues for some time to Government and there is an urgent need to come together to deliver focused and properly resourced action through a whole-system approach."