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Drugs worth £4.3m seized and 230 arrested in county lines crackdown | UK News

An estimated £4.3million worth of Class A drugs have been seized and 230 suspects arrested in a crackdown on county lines gangs.

Around 70 criminal networks supplying heroin, cocaine and crack from London were shut down by the Metropolitan Police during a week of action beginning on 3 October.

Scotland Yard detectives also confiscated a large quantity of Class B drugs together with almost £335,000 in cash and almost 60 weapons including a firearm, a samurai sword, meat cleaver, machetes, knives and knuckle dusters.

A total of 249 children and vulnerable adults – 215 male and 34 female – were safeguarded during the week-long crackdown, which is part of the force’s Operation Orochi.

County lines refers to criminal gangs using mobile phones to supply drugs from large cities to towns and rural areas.

This week police intercepted county lines running from the capital to Hull and Hertfordshire.

Line holders are in charge of the network while runners, often vulnerable people, are used to deliver the drugs.

This system of drug distribution leads to serious violence and exploitation, police said.

Some 31 referrals were made to officials responsible for identifying victims of human trafficking and modern slavery and ensuring they get appropriate support.

Drugs confiscated during the county lines crackdown
Drugs that were confiscated during the operation
Drugs seized during the crackdown
Drugs seized during the crackdown

From its inception in November 2019 until September this year, Operation Orochi has seen more than 1,260 county lines dismantled and almost 2,500 people arrested, leading to 3,833 charges for offences including drug supply, weapon possession and modern slavery.

Deputy assistant commissioner, Graham McNulty, said: “County lines bring misery to communities and devastate the lives of those who are most vulnerable in our society.

“There is an undeniable link between drugs and violence, so disrupting all routes of drug supply continues to be central to our work in making London safer for everyone.”

A suspect being led away by police Pic: Twitter/ Met Police
A suspect being led away by police Pic: Twitter/ Met Police

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Mr McNulty added: “Our efforts to tackle county lines are ongoing day in, day out, not just during the coordinated weeks of action.

“We will press on with removing drugs off our streets, keeping our communities safe, and protecting those who are most vulnerable and easily susceptible to predatory gangs.”

Police from across the capital also worked alongside 6,000 children and adults to explain the warning signs of criminal exploitation.

‘Vaping revolution’: 4.3m Brits now use e-cigarettes – but 350,000 of them have never smoked | UK News

A record 4.3 million people are actively vaping in Britain after a fivefold increase in a decade, according to a report.

Some 8.3% of adults in England, Wales and Scotland are now believed to be regular vapers – up from 1.7% (about 800,000 people) 10 years ago.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), which compiled the report, said a “revolution” had occurred.

E-cigarettes allow people to inhale nicotine rather than smoke.

The NHS says they carry “a small fraction of the risk of cigarettes” because they don’t produce tar or carbon monoxide.

The liquid and vapour contain some potentially harmful chemicals, but at much lower levels. However, the potential long-term effects of vaping are not yet known.

The ASH report says about 2.4 million British vapers are former smokers, 1.5 million still smoke, and 350,000 have never had a cigarette.

It also found that smokers who vape daily have fewer cigarettes.

However, 28% of smokers said they had never tried an e-cigarette – with one in ten of this group worried they aren’t safe enough.

One in five ex-smokers said vaping had helped them kick the habit. This appears to correspond with growing evidence that e-cigarettes can be effective at helping people quit.

Most vapers reported using a refillable tank system, but there appears to be a rise in disposable e-cigarettes – growing from 2.3% last year to 15% today.

Young people appear to be driving this increase, with nearly half of 18 to 24-year-olds saying they used them.

Fruit flavours followed by menthol were the most popular choices for vaping, according to the report – which saw YouGov survey more than 13,000 adults.

ASH said the government now needed an improved strategy to drive down cigarette use.

“There are now five times as many vapers as there were in 2012, with millions having used them as part of a quit attempt,” said Hazel Cheeseman, deputy chief of ASH.

“However, they haven’t worked for everyone. Just under half of smokers who have tried them have stopped using them and 28% have never tried one at all.

“Government has said that a ‘vaping revolution’ will help them meet their ambition for a smoke-free country by 2030 but it won’t be enough – we need a comprehensive plan that will help all smokers.”