The ‘Cleaning up communities’ campaign aims to tackle the issue of drug supply within Cumbrian communities by raising awareness of the lengths organised crime groups go to in order to establish their illegal operations.
Cumbria is often targeted as a base to establish a drug supply operation by organised crime groups from metropolitan areas such as Merseyside and Greater Manchester. This is often referred to as ‘County lines’ – where organised crime groups use young people or vulnerable adults to carry and sell drugs across county boundaries.
As part of this they may target a vulnerable person in the area they want to operate in and take over their home as a base to sell drugs from. This will often involve violence, intimidation and the offer of money or drugs. The use of a property for drug dealing leaves the vulnerable person homeless and is known as ‘cuckooing’. The operation will then exploit local drug users and can quickly lead to numbers of people indebted to the organised crime group.
The associated risks of drug supply:
· Increase in violence - where crime groups threaten and commit acts of violence against persons who are indebted to them.
· Increase in acquisitive crime – burglaries, robberies, thefts and shoplifting increase as those in debt look to source money for drugs or protection.
· Increased risk of exploitation – vulnerable adults and young people are often targeted by crime groups to conduct operations. Enticed by offers of drugs, money and a perceived social status the crime groups use these people to take the risks of being caught supplying.
· Impact on quality of life – communities where an organised drug supply operation is established tend to live in fear. With a likely increase in crime, exploitation and violence the quality of life for those living and working in the area significantly decreases.
What you can do:
The Constabulary has a proven track record of dismantling these types of operations and bringing offenders to justice. However officers and staff cannot do this alone and they require regular information on what is happening in communities from vigilant members of the public.
There are a number of ways in which you can report suspicious or suspected drug activity. They include:
· Phone police on 101. In an emergency dial 999.
· Phone Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
· Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
· Speak to a police officer or PCSO.
· Attend your nearest front counter police station.
Protect yourself, your family, your friends and your community – together we can ensure that organised crime groups do not establish their drug supply operations within our communities.