Police and crime commissioner Alison Hernandez is asking for communities to help keep drug dealers at bay by watching out for signs of ‘county lines’ networks.

Alison Hernandez
Police and crime commissioner Alison Hernandez

She has launched the sixth round of Operation Scorpion, a joint exercise between five South West forces. She is asking for people to watch out for signs of county lines dealing, where drugs are transported, usually by children or vulnerable people who are coerced into it by gangs, and report information to police or anonymously to Crimestoppers.

The commissioner’s network of 350 councillor advocates — local authority members who work with community policing teams — have been given Operation Scorpion posters, which ask people to report the signs of county lines dealing in young or vulnerable people. These can be:

  • A child or young person going missing from school or home, or significant changes in emotional wellbeing
  • A person meeting unfamiliar adults or a change to their behaviour
  • The use of drugs and alcohol
  • Unexplained bus or train tickets
  • Acquiring money or expensive gifts they can’t account for
  • Lone children from outside of the area
  • Individuals with multiple mobile phones, tablets, or SIM cards.
  • Use of unusual terms, for instance “going country”
  • Young people with more money, expensive clothing, or accessories than they can account for
  • Unknown or suspicious-looking characters coming and going from a neighbour’s house
  • Relationships with controlling or older individuals, or associations with gangs
  • Suspicion of self-harm, physical assault, malnutrition, or unexplained injuries

Anyone with information about suspected drug dealing in their community can report it to police via the 101 non-emergency contact service, or 999 if a crime is in progress. Information can be passed anonymously to the force, via the independent charity Crimestoppers, on 0800 555111, or on the website crimestoppers-uk.org.