Police to get millions in extra funding to crack down on county lines drug gangs as PM vows to ‘cut the heads off the snakes’ behind misery
The Prime Minister is expected to announce millions of pounds in extra funding for the police to tackle the gangs which exploit children to traffic drugs in provincial towns and cities.
In a twin-track approach, resources will also be made available to help wean addicts off heroin, crack and other hard drugs.
The funding package will build on the success of Project Adder, a police pilot scheme which has already had a positive impact in disrupting county lines operations by allowing forces to devote more resources to covert operations.
The Prime Minister is expected to announce millions of pounds in extra funding for the police to tackle the gangs which exploit children to traffic drugs in provincial towns and cities (file image of a dawn drug raid)
Home Secretary Priti Patel has described the aim of the scheme as ‘cutting the head off the snake’ of criminal gangs.
A Whitehall source said: ‘The expansion you see next week will allow us to cut many more heads off many more snakes.’
County lines drugs operations have spread across Britain in recent years, with criminal gangs exploiting vulnerable youngsters to deliver drugs to communities outside the major conurbations.
The funding package will build on the success of Project Adder, a police pilot scheme which has already had a positive impact in disrupting county lines operations by allowing forces to devote more resources to covert operations (stock image)
They often operate across local authority boundaries, coercing children to move drugs and cash for them and offering ‘services’ such as door-to-door deliveries. In some cases youngsters are forced into debt-bondage with a gang, making it impossible for them to escape.
In others, gangs take over the home of a vulnerable person and use it as a base for their operations in a practice known as ‘cuckooing’, which is set to be made illegal.
Mr Johnson previously pledged that the gangs will be ‘totally wound up’, accusing them of ‘killing kids’.
Project Adder – it stands for Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement and Recover – is designed to be a holistic approach involving the police, local authorities and NHS services.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has described the aim of the scheme as ‘cutting the head off the snake’ of criminal gangs
Launched in January in Blackpool, Hastings, Middlesbrough, Norwich and Swansea Bay, it has since been expanded to Bristol, Newcastle, Wakefield, Liverpool, Knowsley, Wirral and the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Hackney – at a total cost of £59million.
All of the towns and cities involved are plagued by significant drug problems and suffer higher than average drug-related deaths.
Sources said police forces involved in the scheme had been able to step-up operations against drugs gangs in their area, making it harder for them to operate freely.
Other areas suffering high rates of drug deaths include Barrow-in-Furness, Hartlepool, Carlisle, Stoke-on-Trent, Brighton and Hove and Gateshead, though sources declined to say where the scheme might be extended to next.
The drugs crackdown is part of a wider law and order package to be unveiled next week, including a renewed emphasis on the rights of victims. There will also be new efforts to drive up prosecution rates for rape and sexual assaults.
Ministers are expected to unveil a change in the law to ensure rape victims have the automatic right to give evidence by video link to avoid the trauma of having to face their tormentor in court.
And the Daily Mail revealed last week that a Prisons White Paper will give prison governors new powers to hand out fast-track punishments to convicts guilty of low level offences. Tougher measures will also be taken to cut off the supply of drugs to jails, which remains a major challenge.