18 arrested and more than £5,000 seized in county lines crackdown in Northants

Operation Viper is the county force's crackdown on serious and organised crime
Operation Viper is the county force's crackdown on serious and organised crime

Police arrested 18 people and seized more than £5,000 last week as part of the National County Lines Coordination Centre’s (NCLCC) week of intensification.

‘County lines’ refers to the practice of criminal gangs moving out of city centres to more rural locations to deal drugs.

They often target vulnerable people to deal the drugs on their behalf or they take over their homes as a base to deal from, known as cuckooing.

County lines gangs are operating in Northamptonshire and police are working hard with partners to tackle the issue as part of Operation Viper, the force’s crackdown on serious and organised crime.

This is the first intensification week to be coordinated by the NCLCC, which was fully established under joint National Crime Agency and National Police Chiefs’ Council leadership in September 2018 as part of the Home Office’s Serious Violence Strategy.

As well as the arrests made and money seized, officers in Northamptonshire also seized a large quantity of Class A drugs, weapons including knives and an imitation firearm, two vehicles and 11 mobile phones.

They also identified 11 addresses that were being cuckooed and safeguarded five vulnerable people.

Detective Inspector Carrie Powers said: “This week of intensification was led by the force’s intelligence bureau with a number of successes as the arrests, seizures and safeguarded people show.

“The ages of those people we arrested range significantly with the youngest person arrested aged only 15 years old.

“This demonstrates the lengths the people who control these county lines are willing to go in exploiting young and vulnerable people who will be the ones putting themselves in dangerous situations simply to make money for the people exploiting them.

“Tackling county lines will remain a priority for us and we will continue to disrupt these criminals, bringing them to justice and safeguarding the vulnerable people they are taking advantage of.”

Community intelligence is vital in helping police tackle and disrupt county lines so anyone with any information or anyone concerned about suspicious activity around their local area is asked to call police on 101.

People can also report information anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.