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Two hundred arrests after nine forces take part in County Lines op

Op Pandilla involved nine forces tackling drug supply and linked violence on the roads over three days.

Officers from the Met, Surrey, Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Thames Valley, Hampshire, City of London and British Transport Police worked to disrupt county lines gang activity in order to reduce gang, drug and weapon based violence.

During the three-day operation which began on Tuesday (15 September), officers used Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and intelligence to target vehicles linked to violent crime.

Overall 1,065 officers were involved in the effort which focused on arterial routes and motorways in and around London such as the M25, M11, M4 and the M20.

The operation resulted in:

Chief Inspector Jack May-Robinson from the Violent Crime Taskforce said: “This three-day operation involved neighbouring forces we continuously work with as part of our day to day policing. We’ve built on those relationships to work together and drive down on those using the road network to facilitate their criminal activity.

“Some of the individuals arrested are extremely dangerous, lead criminal life styles and exploit vulnerable people to run drugs and commit crime. Due to the need to safeguard those who have been exploited, we resourced a dedicated phone-line of trained officers to give specialist advice to officers to ensure the best care and response possible.

“Operation Pandilla is part of our effort to target the drivers of violent crime. Drugs are inextricably linked to a high proportion of the violence; therefore we will continue to target those who exploit children to peddle drugs and target the most vulnerable within our communities. We simply can’t do this alone and must work with our partners.

“Our message to criminals using the road network to transport drugs and illegal assets is clear. We are tirelessly working 24/7 to disrupt you. If you are stopped with anything illegal we will arrest you and put you before the courts. We are working stronger together and sharing intelligence across borders to make it as hard as possible for you to run county lines.”

A range of officers from the Met were involved, including the Violent Crime Taskforce, Operation Venice, Tactical Firearms Officers, Dog Support Unit, Roads and Transport Policing Command, as well as Specialist Crime officers.

CI May-Robinson called the partnership working “tried and tested” due to a number of recent operations.

“The lessons that we have learned working with these other forces, and also the experts in intelligence and tactics has meant we’ve got quite a polished product already.”

CI May-Robinson said that co-location of decision makers from each of the police forces meant they were able to share in real-time.

"Co-location of command was a real factor in its success," he said.

The ANPR history formed the basis of most of the intelligence in the two weeks leading up to the operation.

Officers were proactively patrolling on arterial routes with ANPR computers built in their cars, allowing them to scan several vehicles at once.

Referrals of suspected victims of modern slavery exploited by county lines gangs more than doubled during the coronavirus lockdown, official figures show.

The UK’s National Referral Mechanism (NRM) received 409 referrals of potential victims between April and June – up from 199 the previous quarter.

Specialist crime officers were in place in case any vulnerable or exploited individuals were discovered. .

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