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Express & Star comment: Drugs war faces new challenges

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

Drug dealing has become increasingly sophisticated in recent times.

Some of the drugs and cash seized recently by police on County Lines operations

While once, towns – and the police – might have had local dealers to contend with, now they are more likely to have couriers who travel in from different parts of the country, exploiting what police have termed county lines.

The number of youngsters who are sucked into the nefarious practice is deeply troubling. Impressionable often vulnerable young people, see opportunities for self-advancement that do not exist in conventional society.

They are sucked into a dark and exploitative trade that breeds only misery; both for themselves, for the people to whom they deal and to the communities blighted by illegal drug use and the crime that it attracts.

In these times of prolonged austerity, the police face a challenge in tackling such gangs, who all too-frequently remain one step ahead. Police, quite rightly, have been focusing on the issue and the results are encouraging.

The figures from last week’s operation across the country – including 500 arrests – are impressive. It is worth pausing to consider how many lives have been saved as a result of this work.

Of course, it is almost certainly just the tip of the iceberg and there will be no let up from police.

Everyone can play their part too, looking out for unusual behaviour or keeping an eye on the vulnerable. What is important is police continue to focus not just on the mules who peddle drugs in our towns and villages.

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They must also accumulate cold, hard intelligence as they look to shut down operations by putting the ringleaders behind bars.

For as important as it is to take out the unconscionable neighbourhood dealers who prey on the young and vulnerable, they must also look at the bigger picture and tackle the problem at source.

A clear and unequivocal message must be sent to those tempted to deal that they will be caught; it does not present an attractive alternative to old-fashioned hard work in gainful employment.

And they must become aware that living life with the gnawing fear that there will soon be a knock on the door from the boys in blue is a path not worth pursuing.

This is a hugely complex and shifting problem and the police need all the support they can get.

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