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JAILED: Another county lines drug dealer taken off Harrogate streets

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A 21-year-old Bradford man has been jailed for two years and three months after being caught in Harrogate dealing heroin and crack cocaine.

Reece North of Harden Grove, appeared for sentencing at York Crown Court on 12 February after previously pleading guilty to two charges, one of possessing heroin with intent to supply and one of possessing cocaine with intent to supply. He was jailed for 27 months for each offence, with the sentences to run concurrently. He was also given an additional month in prison for failing to attend an earlier court hearing.

His accomplice, a 17-year-old boy who was 16 at the time and cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of class A drugs. He is due to be sentenced at a later date.

Back in July 2018, thanks to Harrogate CCTV operators and plain clothed officers from North Yorkshire Police’s Operation Expedite team, the pair were arrested shortly after being seen on camera carrying out a suspected drug deal in the town centre.

Officers intercepted them a short time later on Oxford Street.

North was found to be carrying 40 individual wraps of heroin and crack cocaine and around £100 in cash. Officers seized a knife and mobile phones from the 16-year-old boy.

Investigating officer, Detective Constable Tom Barker of the Operation Expedite team, said: “This was typical of county lines drug dealing with the pair travelling across the county border to pedal drugs in North Yorkshire.

“The result means two more drug dealers have been taken off the streets of Harrogate in the wake of a number of other arrests related to county lines drug dealing this week. I hope local people are reassured that we are doing everything we can to address the problem of drugs in the town.

“We urge members of the public to continue to report information about drug dealing in their community. No matter how small, it all helps to form a bigger picture, and you can be assured that will take action.”

County lines

“County lines” is the term given to a form of organised crime in which drug dealers from urban areas exploit vulnerable people – including children – and force them to deal drugs in smaller towns and cities. It takes its name from the mobile phone lines used by dealers to communicate between towns, take orders & conduct their “business”. The lines are used to advertise drugs for sale and mass text messages are sent to users letting them know where and when they can buy drugs. The lines become valuable protected “brands”. Violence and intimidation is prevalent within county lines. Due to the exploitation of vulnerable people associated with it, it is a key, operational priority for North Yorkshire Police.

A major concern for North Yorkshire Police is a practice known as cuckooing, which is where drug dealers take over the home of a vulnerable person and use it to store and sell drugs. They often use violence and intimidation to achieve this. Cuckooing victims are often drug users themselves, and people who are vulnerable due to a mental or physical disability, their age or lifestyle, such as sex workers and single mothers. They are often given free drugs in return for allowing dealers to stay at their home. Resulting in them being dependent on the dealers and “owing” them a debt.

The force works with housing providers partner agencies and carries out regular welfare checks on known victims of cuckooing, and offers interventions including drug and alcohol support. It also uses cease and desist notices which is a formal warning to householders to stop suspected criminal activity.

Members of the public provide invaluable information that helps shape our operational activity and we urge residents to look out for the signs of cuckooing in their neighbourhood and report any concerns they have. Signs to look out for include:

• Increased callers at a property
• Increase in cars pulling up for short periods of time
• Different accents at a property
• Increased antisocial behaviour at a property
• Not seeing the resident for long periods of time
• Unfamiliar vehicles at the property
• Windows covered or curtains closed for long periods
• Communal doors propped open

Call North Yorkshire Police on 101. If you prefer not to speak to the police and wish to remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. If you or another person is in immediate danger, always call 999.

DO NOT approach anyone you suspect is being involved in drug dealing, but all the police.

Look out for the signs that a young person you know might be exploited by drug dealers:

• Persistently going missing from school or home and / or being found out-of-area;
• Unexplained money, clothes, or mobile phones
• Excessive receipt of texts / phone calls
• Relationships with controlling / older individuals or groups
• Leaving home / care without explanation
• Suspicion of physical assault / unexplained injuries
• Carrying weapons
• Significant decline in school results / performance
• Gang association or isolation from peers or social networks
• Self-harm or significant changes in emotional well-being

Call the police on 101 or visit our website for partner agencies who can offer help and support northyorkshire.police.uk/staying-safe/young-people-and-drugs-where-to-get-help/

Last modified: February 13, 2020