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New BTP unit to tackle county lines gangs says Home Secretary

Extra teams of British Transport Police will be created to take on drug gangs using the train network.

The Home Secretary used her speech to the Conservative Party conference to confirm a package of measures - underpinned by £20 million of Home Office funding to disrupt ‘County Lines’ gangs operating across the country.

Part of their approach includes sending children by train from major cities to regional towns to deliver supplies of illegal drugs.   

To counter this, a dedicated BTP unit using visible and undercover officers will be deployed.

This will build on officers already operating from major stations in London including Paddington and Liverpool Street.

North Yorkshire Police revealed earlier this year why they are needed: “Increasingly, we are seeing drug dealers and the people they are exploiting, use the rail network to travel into York and Scarborough from areas such as Manchester, Merseyside, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire.” 

The funding will also go into the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre to increase its activity. The centre brings together a multi-agency team of experts from the National Crime Agency (NCA), police officers and regional organised crime units.

Since it opened a year ago, the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre has enabled 1,800 arrests and has helped safeguard more than 2,400 vulnerable people – including more than 1,000 children. 

The Home Office said in a statement: “Rail networks remain a key method of transportation for county lines gangs. There will be British Transport Police teams that work exclusively on county lines, and will be based at a number of railway stations across England that are key hubs for county lines drug trafficking.”

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