Three people have been arrested following warrants executed today, Wednesday 18 May, in Liverpool, Wirral and Blackpool.
Warrants were executed at addresses in Woolton, Birkenhead, and Blackpool following an investigation led by Merseyside Police to tackle County Lines drug dealing and the criminal exploitation of children.
A 20-year-old man from Woolton, a 19-year-old woman from Birkenhead and a 55-year-old man from Blackpool have been arrested on suspicion of a number of offences including modern-day slavery for exploiting young people, and concerned in the supply and possession with intent to supply Class A and B drugs.
Officers are conducting searches of the properties and have so far recovered suspected controlled drugs.
Detective Inspector Ruth Tickle said, “Today’s arrests were part of the proactive work we are carrying out in an operation that works across force boundaries to ensure we take suspected County line offenders off our streets.
“The organised criminal gangs who operated these County Lines, groom and exploit the most vulnerable people in our communities including children and young people to store and sell drugs.
“They are intimidated, coerced, threatened and often subject to violence. Today’s joint policing operation is instrumental in not only putting offenders behind bars, but identifying and safeguarding young and vulnerable people that are being exploited.
“We cannot do this without the help of our communities. It’s vital that everyone who cares for or knows young and vulnerable people understands the issue and knows the warning signs, and report it to police so we can take action.
“Ultimately everyone should be warned that if you get involved in crime, you risk facing the consequences. However, when we identify vulnerable, exploited people during our enquiries, we ensure they are treated with sensitivity and understanding, and are offered appropriate support. Our primary target is those who seek to use them for their own selfish gain.
“Our work to remove these people from our streets and bring them to justice will continue on a daily basis and I would ask anyone who has information about this kind of activity to come forward so action can be taken.”
Wirral Council Director of Children’s Services, Simone White, added, “Working with our safeguarding partners, Wirral Children’s Services are committed to tackling all forms of child abuse.
“Those suspected of exploiting children and vulnerable young people in any way can expect our attention.
“If you are a young person, or know a young person who may need some help, advice or support please make contact with our specialist multi agency Child Exploitation Service at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
If you have concerns about drug dealing in your area you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, call Merseyside Police on 101 or DM @MerpolCC. Always contact 999 if a crime is in progress.
Spotting the signs of someone involved in County Lines can be tricky – if you are worried about someone, visit www.eyes-open.co.uk for more information.