SURREY Police have reacted vigorously to claims by the BBC that drugs crime is increasing in towns such as Woking, while at the same falling significantly in city centres.
“People may have seen a recent news story about drug gangs operating away from cities and in more rural areas instead,” said T/Det. Supt Mark Chapman. “This is part of so-called county lines activity that we take very seriously and are working hard with other agencies to address.
“County lines activity, which involves organised crime groups bringing drugs into more rural areas to sell, is a national issue.
“We employ a number of tactics to reduce drug-related harm and to disrupt this activity, including covert tactics, proactive patrols at train stations, drugs dogs and patrols on major routes in and out of the county.”
Police in Woking have been prominent in the fight against county lines activity.
Detective Inspector Andy Greaves, the Woking Borough Commander, has stated that tackling drug supply and its associated violence is his main priority, and he also cited the knock-on effects of drug crime, among them burglary by users to fund their habit.
There have been substantial police operations at Woking station to detect and disrupt those bringing in drugs and weapons to the town, notably in May when the police presence was so large that commuters believed there had been a major incident.
That followed Operation Barricade, a five-day initiative at the station last December, when drugs and weapons were once again the target.
More than 130 people were stopped and searched after possible signs of drugs were picked up by sniffer dogs. Nine arrests were made, three weapons seized, there were eight drug warnings and stolen property worth £300 was recovered.
DI Greaves has said that he wants to make Woking a “no-go area” for drug dealers.
“My message is that, if you want to come into Woking and want to supply drugs, we will identify you and, where possible, prosecute you,” DI Greaves added.
For the full story get the 15 August edition of the News & Mail