St Albans violent crime: Recreational drug users 'feeding' County Lines

County Lines paraphernalia seized by St Albans police.

County Lines paraphernalia seized by St Albans police. - Credit: St Albans police

Recreational drug users are being urged to consider how they are feeding into the County Lines crimes which have become prevalent locally.

Clarence ward councillors have reacted to the conviction of four teenagers for violent crime, after the spate of offences began in St Albans' Clarence Park back at the start of 2020.

County Lines is where illegal drugs are transported from one area to another, often across police and local authority boundaries, usually by children or vulnerable people who are coerced into it by gangs.

Cllr Danny Clare said: "If you’re a white collar recreational drug user, sitting thinking how horrific this is, please consider whether you’re feeding it. 

"Despite the horrific level of violence here, my biggest disappointment is that more young lives have been ruined by the blight on society that is drugs, specifically through coercion and county lines.

"Every time this happens, we have failed as a community. The lack of accessible activities for young people and community coupled with the financial opportunity offered to young people through drugs are a major challenge. 

"It takes a community to stop this, parents, mentors, coaches, educators. And if you’re concerned about your own child, reach out and get help before it’s too late."

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Cllr Chris White added: "Local residents were understandably very anxious about this sort of violent crime in their area and will be grateful to the police for pursuing the matter so vigorously and successfully. Hopefully it will stand as a warning to anyone else who imagines that they can get away with this sort of lifestyle."

County Lines drugs operations in St Albans were dealt a further blow last week with four arrests in the city.

Officers working alongside Operation Scorpion - a proactive campaign against organised crime in Herts - stopped a vehicle due to suspected involvement in County Lines activities.

A large quantity of drugs and cash were found within the vehicle, and the four occupants were arrested in relation with these offences.

With support from Operation Scorpion and local response teams, further searches were conducted and a quantity of Class A drugs, related items and knives were seized.

St Albans district Neighbourhood Inspector Andy Wiseman said: “St Albans, Harpenden and London Colney remain one of the safest counties to live. However, like with any city or town and being close to London, that county lines operators do target young or vulnerable people living here.

"We are aware of County Lines and lots of fast time covert work is being done to find out who these people are and disrupt their activities.

"As part of our Prevention First focus, we work closely with our partner agencies, including schools to educate young people about County Lines and the serious consequences of carrying knives and other weapons.

“In the St Albans district, we also have support from the gangs and school team and we work with the Operation Mantis team, a county resource specialising in targeting serious and organised crime, which works with the Eastern Regional Special Operations Unit, National Crime Agency and other regional and national organisations. 

"We also work with other police forces across the country to disband groups who use violence and intimidation to deal drugs and cause misery in communities. 

“Once we have identified a County Line drugs lines, we proactively disrupt and dismantle the supply of drugs and target those involved in exploiting vulnerable or young people. 

 “We are also working with parents and other members of the community to help protect young, vulnerable people being drawn into criminal gangs. 

“If you suspect anyone is involved in drugs or is carrying weapon, please get in touch with us so we can act, on 999.  Alternatively, you can report information online, speak to an operator in our Force Communications Room via our online web chat or call the non-emergency number 101.”