Worthing and Adur’s police chief has hailed significant progress in the fight against gangs dealing drugs on our streets.
Chief Inspector Miles Ockwell said there has been a drop in violent crime as a result.
He said: “At the moment I have got to say things are going quite well.
“People will say ‘there’s a lot of people dealing drugs’, and there is a bit.
“When I started you were getting quite a high level of serious violence associated with ‘county lines’ drug supply and, actually, that has been reducing quite significantly in my opinion.
“The figures since April bear that out.”
Ch Insp Ockwell, district commander for Worthing, Adur and Horsham, said the area has seen just over a five per cent reduction in violence with injury offences.
‘County lines’ refers to gangs and organised criminal networks which bring drugs into suburban, rural and coastal areas, using dedicated mobile phone lines, according to the Crimestoppers charity.
The gangs move into a rural or suburban area for a short time, taking over the home of a vulnerable person where they set up a base, a practice known as ‘cuckooing’.
The crime sees county lines gangs exploit children and vulnerable adults to move drugs and money.
Many of those taken advantage of by these gangs have been forced to carry out criminal activity by threats, grooming and extortion and can be described as modern day slaves, the charity said.
Ch Insp Ockwell said success against county lines in our area is due to ‘a number of different things’.
By working in partnership with other agencies, police have been able to deliver a sharp blow against cuckooing, he said.
He added: “When I first started, we had a lot of addresses which were high-risk addresses.
“The number of red – really high risk – has gone from more than 20 to two.”
Ch Insp Ockwell believes that by visiting these types of address every day to check on residents, police have been able to deter drug dealers from targeting them.
He added: “I think it was in those addresses where a lot of the violent crime was occurring.”
What is more, police have been targeting ‘specific, prolific offenders’ successfully, he said.
Could you spot the signs of county lines drug dealing in your area?
What is your experience of drug crime in Worthing? Email your views to firstname.lastname@example.org.