It was encouraging that the House of Commons last Thursday gave a couple of minutes to discuss “County Lines Criminal Activity” and one of the two MPs who raised the question was Andrew Griffith, the MP for Arundel and South Downs. His first question “What steps the CPS is taking to prosecute people responsible for county lines criminal activity” was not in any way a problem and it did enable the brief discussion to start. However his follow up question, rather sadly makes his ignorance very evident. That is the piece above. The reality is that relatively few people are victims when it comes to drug gangs using County lines, almost all of the victims come from London and from other urban settings and they are primarily young people who are groomed to carry drugs on trains and other transport arrangements to deliver them to the drug dealers in other locations. So the prospect of many if any victims from Hassocks is very unlikely. However perhaps a more credible approach for MPs like Andrew to take is to admit that the reason that drug dealing takes place is that some of his colleagues such as Johnson and Gove have admitted to using drugs and so there are probably people in every constituency that do buy drugs and so one way of addressing this terrible crime arrangement is to persuade people not to buy drugs or if Griffith would argue for this, for a way of buying drugs that will remove the criminal aspect out of the system all together. No one with any sense would argue that everyone is a victim of County Lines and equally no one would argue that everyone is a cause of County Lines. However there are more people who cause them to take place by their procurement than are the victims and primarily the people who buy drugs are the wealthy people such as people who live in Andrews constituency and who live in Brighton where I live and where some of the victims are sent to bring in the drugs.
A short while after I wrote this piece, a contact of mine Kevin Moore wrote the following comment on facebook in response to my blog. Amongst other roles Kevin was the Divisional Commander of Brighton & Hove Police for a couple of years and I was the chair of the Brighton & Hove Police Independent Advisory Group at the same time.
An interesting post Ian. I know a considerable amount about County Lines. After retiring as a police officer in 2009, I worked as the Intelligence Manager within the S.E. Regional Organised Crime Unit. Some believe that County Lines is a fairly recent development. However, we identified the issue back in 2011 and were able to show that the issue transcended many areas across the country. We developed a working relationship with the Metropolitan Police (Op Trident Gangs Unit) and became the intelligence hub building a national picture. We also created a successful partnership response and held a two monthly intelligence meeting involving representatives from across the country. Our work was held up as best practice and eventually after much effort led to the NCA taking the national lead. Therefore, I can support what you are saying and clearly this MP knows absolutely nothing about this issue!!