The charity Crimestoppers has launched a campaign across the region to highlight the pain and suffering that criminals from urban areas are inflicting on vulnerable people, including children, in cities and rural communities.
The campaign aims to raise awareness of County Lines, which is when criminals from major cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, London and Birmingham are expanding their drug networks to other areas, bringing with it serious criminal behaviour such as violence, exploitation and abuse.
The term refers to the use of a single telephone number to order drugs, operated from outside the area.
This is having a massive impact on rural counties such as Cheshire, Cumbria, Lancashire and in North Wales, and also on vulnerable children and adults who are being recruited in Liverpool and Manchester to transport cash and drugs all over the country, so that the criminals behind it can remain detached and less likely to be detected.
They often set up a base in a rural area for a short time, taking over the home of a vulnerable person and use adults and children to act as drug runners.
Crimestoppers has had a record 8,208 pieces of information given to them anonymously from the public in the North West over the last six months on drug trafficking and supply, but the charity needs the help of the public to disrupt these criminal networks and stop the misery they cause.
Law enforcement has made significant arrests of individuals from the North West who are both orchestrating this activity and who have travelled to areas such as Aberdeen in Scotland, South Wales and Devon and Cornwell, as well as safeguarding many vulnerable adults and children who have been coerced into these activities.
Gary Murray, Crimestoppers regional manager for the North West, said: “County Lines isn’t necessarily a term people are familiar with, but as a charity it’s important we raise awareness of this issue and tackle it.
“Gangs coming in from other areas only add to any existing drug-related issues, so we are asking that anyone who has information to contact us, safe in the knowledge nobody will know you have done so.
“We won’t judge or ask any personal details. All we want to know is what you know, and you’ll remain 100% anonymous. Always.”
If you have any information on those from cities who have recently travelled or moved into an area to set up a drugs network and who may be using violence or abuse to carry out their activities, Crimestoppers charity is here to take your information.
You can contact them anonymously on 0800 555 111 or can send an untraceable online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org.