Rail passengers were met with an increased police presence – as officers conducted a target operation against drugs gangs who exploit vulnerable young people.
Uniformed and plain-clothed officers were joined by police dogs at Nottingham Train station yesterday (Tuesday) during a day-long operation to target so-called County Lines criminals, who are known to use children and vulnerable adults to carry drugs and money on public transport.
During the joint operation by Nottinghamshire Police and British Transport Police dozens of people were screened and had their bags sniffed by dogs trained to detect drugs and cash.
Plain-clothed officers were also in attendance to watch how passengers reacted to the presence of uniformed colleagues.
Two men, aged 26 and 23, were arrested at around 1pm on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of control drugs and released under investigation. Mobile phones, controlled drugs and a large quantity of cash were also recovered.
Detective Inspector Paul Lefford, of Nottinghamshire Police’s Modern Slavery and County Lines team, said: “This is an operation we carry out on a regular basis because we know that the rail network is being used by County Lines gangs who often use vulnerable people to transport drugs from Nottingham to more rural areas.
“When we conduct this kind of activity we use overt and covert police resources to target people who either look out of place or who react in a suspicious way to the presence of uniformed officers.
“In doing so we are seeking not only to find and lock up people who deal drugs for a living, but also to identify and safeguard vulnerable young people who are potential victims of criminal exploitation.
“Ultimately we want people to think twice about using the rail network for criminal purposes.”
Detective Superintendent Gareth Williams, the lead of the BTP County Lines Taskforce, said: “Our Taskforce operates nationally, targeting County Lines gangs at every opportunity and carrying out operations almost daily. I’d like to thank Nottinghamshire Police for their support during this operation at Nottingham station.
“Our role is to make the railway increasingly hostile to gangs who use them to transport drugs – this has been very successful with hundreds of arrests and many seizures of drugs and weapons since the start of the year.
“Sadly, these gangs exploit or intimidate vulnerable children into carrying drugs or cash on the railway, often putting them at great risk. We use every operation as an opportunity to identify exploited children and make every effort to offer safeguarding and pull them away from crime.
“We’re working alongside The Children’s Society to encourage everyone to Look Closer for any signs of child exploitation and report them to the police. Key indicators include a teenager travelling long distances, alone with a large amount of cash, or avoiding any sort of authority at stations. These indicators are small but invaluable and help inform where we target next.”