Essex Police carry out “County Lines” operation at Stansted Airport
Crime / Thu 16th Mar 2023 at 09:27am
OFFICERS carried out a three-day operation at Stansted Airport and visited transport hubs across Essex to disrupt County Lines drug dealing and raise awareness about exploitation.
Operation Dewdrop saw gang and safeguarding specialists from Op Raptor working alongside the Serious Violence Unit’s Prepare Prevent and Protect team, Uttlesford Community Policing Team, the Dog Section and Stansted Airport officers.
They proactively intercepted vehicles that had been linked to criminality using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), operated a vehicle checkpoint at the airport, and carried out welfare checks on individuals they had concerns about.
Over the course of the operation, two cars were seized, one man was arrested, and a woman and child were safeguarded.
Officers also handed out Look Closer leaflets to drivers and passengers at the airport, Birchanger Services, and at train stations and businesses in Southend, Basildon, Colchester and Braintree.
The leaflets, which have been developed with the Children’s Society, have a QR code that links to information about the warning signs of exploitation and tell people what to do if they suspect they have seen someone who is a victim.
Millions of people use Essex’s air, rail and road links every year but the ease of the travel into and away from London means they can be stop off for children being trafficked by County Lines drug dealers or adults being coerced into sex work.
The operation, supported by the National County Lines Coordination Centre, was led by Detective Sergeant Mark Ghosh, a safeguarding officer from our Raptor team.
He said: “We’re not just looking for suspects, we’re looking for vulnerable children and adults who are being caught up in County Lines.
“If you are ferrying children and vulnerable adults around and trafficking weapons and drugs, you’re going to get picked up at a vehicle checkpoint, and our safeguarding officers are there to look for people who are vulnerable and want help.
“At Stansted Airport, we were able to maximise the number of drivers and members of the public we could reach out to with information about exploitation, and we also had the capability to pursue vehicles and respond to ANPR hits as criminals have used the car hire village in the past.”
DS Ghosh also highlighted some the tell-tale signs of exploitation his team ask people to look out for.
He said: “A victim may look nervous, be carrying more than one mobile phone or have a large amount of receipts or cash they can’t explain why is in their possession.
“They may be a timid child travelling on their own or alternatively they can be quite confrontational or aggressive because they are scared.
“We’re also looking for people who appear out of place and may not know exactly where they’re going – they just know a general area.
“If this is the case, we’re asking people to make contact with the police so we’ve got a chance to safeguard these individuals who may be being exploited.”
If you are at risk or know somebody who is, please call us on 101. If you would like to make an anonymous report you can contact independent charity Crimestoppers, by visiting their website or by calling 0800 555 111.
This item shows that when the police talk about "intelligence led policing" they are mainly referring to their technology like ANPR cameras.