Working alongside other forces, partners and care homes, Merseyside Police last week carried out activity during County Lines Intensification Week, part of regional and national action to tackle the issue.
The week of intensification (between 14th-20th September) included operations, warrants, safeguarding of and visits to vulnerable people and education of care home staff.
We can now confirm that:
A total of 268 vulnerable young people were spoken to, with safeguarding checks, education and care home visits made.
More than 100 arrests were recorded, for offences including drug supply and possession, and possession of weapons.
During warrants and other activity, cocaine, heroin and crack cocaine with an estimated street value of more than £300,000 was seized. Other notable items seized included more than £12,000 cash, £53,000 in clothes and jewellery, and weapons including swords, a firearm and bats.
Some of the notable activity is below:
Officers working alongside British Transport Police and Cumbria Constabulary carried out an operation at Liverpool Lime Street and Barrow-in-Furness station in Cumbria.
During the operation, arrests were made, including a 25-year-old Merseyside man who was found in possession of a bladed article (see photo). Three other men were arrested on suspicion of separate drug supply offences and remain under investigation.
An 18-year-old from Cumbria was identified as a possible victim of cuckooing and subject of safeguarding measures. A high risk missing female from Dorset was also found.
During a deployment at Liverpool Lime Street station, a 23-year-old man from Anfield was stopped in possession of cannabis and a phone. A further search at his home address led to 500g of cannabis and other paraphenalia being seized. He remains under investigation.
A warrant carried out at a house in Walton led to 1.5kg of cannabis, 1kg of suspected cocaine, 100g of crack cocaine, phones and a SIM card being seized. A 56-year-old woman and a 29-year-old man from Walton were arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply drugs and remain under investigation
A separate warrant carried out at another house in Walton resulted in the seizure of kilo quantities of cocaine, heroin and amphetamines, cash, knives, swords, and the seizure of designer goods. A 44-year-old man and a 44-year-old woman, both from Walton, and a 23-year-old man from Kirkdale were arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply drugs and remain under investigation.
As part of a joint investigation with Northumbria Police, three warrants were carried out at addresses across Liverpool.
In Wavertree, a 31-year-old woman and a 23-year-old man, both from Wavertree, were arrested on suspicion of Class A drug supply. Suspected heroin, phones and designer trainers were seized (see photos).
In Knotty Ash, a 32-year-old man from New Brighton and a 39-year-old man from Knotty Ash were arrested on suspicion of Class A drug supply.
In Liverpool City Centre, a 29-year-old man from Liverpool was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. Phones and cash were seized from the address. All five remain under investigation.
A deployment in Cheshire saw three people arrested in Runcorn after being sighted in suspicious circumstances. A 25-year-old man, a 34-year-old man and a 50-year-old woman, all from Runcorn, remain under investigation and suspected Class A drugs were seized.
Officers seized a firearm in Kirkdale after they were called to an area between Kirkdale and Sandhills stations to a report of a firearm being found (see photos). The firearm was made safe and forensically recovered as enquiries continue.
A further arrest was made in relation an ongoing investigation into criminal exploitation of children. A 35-year-old man from Macclesfield was arrested on suspicion of Hold person in slavery or servitude and released on conditional bail as enquiries continue.
The previous week, during raids across Liverpool, officers arrested two men and a 16-year-old boy on suspicion of being linked to the criminal exploitation of children. Warrants were carried out at homes in Halewood, Wavertree and Anfield where items belonging to those arrested were also seized for investigation.
The offences the males were arrested for range from holding a person in slavery and servitude and taking a child from care without property authority.
In a statement, police gave details of the men and the offences they were arrested for:
A 24-year-old man from Anfield was arrested on suspicion of: Arrange or facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation; taking a vehicle without consent and possession of cannabis
A 22-year-old man from Halewood was arrested on suspicion of: Hold person in slavery or servitude; Taking a child in care without lawful authority; Arrange or facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation; taking a vehicle without consent and possession of cannabis
A 16-year-old boy from Anfield was arrested on suspicion of: Hold person in slavery or servitude; Robbery and possession of cannabis
Operational activity in Liverpool also led to youths being found in possession of cannabis. Follow-up enquiries were carried out with parents and information passed on about the Eyes Open campaign to spot potential signs of criminal exploitation.
Weekend activity included a warrant at an address in Bootle, in which around £20,000 cash and suspected cannabis and cocaine were seized. 30-year-old Liam Brett of Hornby Road was charged with possession with intent to supply Class A and B drugs, and money laundering. He was remanded in custody to appear on trial at Liverpool Crown Court on Thursday 1 October
On Saturday, officers in the Garston area sighted a man in a suspected drug transaction in Burman Road. A vehicle was stopped and a man detained. Cash and cannabis was found and more drugs and designer clothes following a warrant at his home address. A 65-year-old man from Garston was arrested on suspicion of drug supply and the possession of criminal property. He remains under investigation.
Inspector Kate Wilkinson from our County Lines Co-ordination Unit said: “As this activity shows, we’re committed to working alongside other forces and agencies to have a real impact on the issue of County Lines. We have a dedicated team to carry out operations, education and safeguarding, and the joint working with forces such as Cumbria, Northumbria and Cheshire means that crossing borders doesn’t make it harder to detect criminals on the move.
“Everything we do is about working together to recognise the signs, protect the vulnerable and remove those who exploit those people from the streets.
“Through Project Medusa, we work with other forces, BTP and local authorities and agencies to target offenders and protect victims. We’ve closed more than 60 county lines, made more than 300 arrests and safeguarded more than 100 people this year alone. It’s vital that everyone who cares for or knows young and vulnerable people understands the issue and knows the warning signs.”
Read more here about the Eyes Open campaign, introduced by Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership: https://www.merseyside.police.uk/police-forces/merseyside-police/areas/campaigns/campaigns/2018/eyes-open/
You can also report any concerns to police on 999 if a crime is in progress, via 101, or our social media desk via Twitter @MerPolCC or Facebook Merseyside Police CC with reference 20000573862.
You can also pass information via the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously, on 0800 555 111 or via their online form at: https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/give-information.