December 25, 2019

Police take over drug dealers’ phone numbers and text users in new fight against county lines gangs
Police are seizing control of drug dealers' phone numbers and texting users themselves in an attempt to combat county lines gangs. Officers in Sussex have become the first in the country to test a pioneering new tool that allows them to get phone lines turned over to their control Drug dealing telecommunications restriction orders (DDTROs) mean that officers can disrupt the flow of messages between dealers and users, and therefore the flow of drugs. Detective Superintendent Jo Banks, the senior detective leading the fight against county lines drug gangs in Sussex, said : "It's a disruptions tool. But actually what we are then doing is messaging out to the users from that line to say what the alternatives are for them to actually get some help and try and get out of providing that demand for the drugs line in the first place. "We would never say it's the golden goose, it's never the answer. But actually as a disruption tactic it is very useful." County lines feature As officers seek to clamp down on "cuckooing" of vulnerable people's homes by drug dealers, gangs have started to operate from Airbnbs and hotel rooms. "People need to be aware, particularly if they own the Airbnb, if they've got second homes or whatever, and they're hiring them out, actually what they're being used for," said Ms Banks. The move has come as new research shows that thousands of children are being placed in unregulated care homes, where they are at risk of exploitation of sexual predators and drug gangs. The number of times children were housed in unregulated accommodation, where they faced no checks by Ofsted, rose by 22% between 2016-17 and 2018-19, from 4,814 to 5,874, according to data obtained from 112 councils by the Guardian. This is significant because a recent parliamentary inquiry into children being used to traffic drugs found that 80% of 41 police forces in England and Wales expressed concerns about unregulated accommodation. Ms Banks said that dealers often have "eyes and ears on the ground" and know the places where children hang around. "They know who they're looking for," she said. "They know how to spot kids that they can approach who are then going to take the free deal and then become hooked into this world."
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