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Key Harrogate drug supply cut off as police shut down three “county lines”

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Three mobile phone lines used by suspected drug dealers to target their “customers” in Harrogate have been taken out of action.

On 12 February 2020, North Yorkshire Police successfully applied to Newcastle Crown Court to obtain three Drug Dealing Telecommunications Restriction Orders.

These civil orders allow officers to take over a phone line and give them the power to have it disconnected on a specified date and time. The order also prevents the phone number and therefore its associated contacts from being transferred to any other device.

These valuable, protected and often branded phone lines allow out-of-town heroin and cocaine dealers to send mass text messages advertising their drugs for sale and when and where they can be picked up. Taking them out means no adverts, no sales and no profit for drug dealers.

Prior to the lines, known as the Jerry, Teddy and Pat lines being disabled, detectives from North Yorkshire Police sent a message to all contacts linked to each phone line to let them know that North Yorkshire Police now had possession of the lines and had taken all three down off the network. They were deactivated at 15:00 hours on 14 February 2020.

Officers also signposted users to confidential  help and support from drug support workers at the charity, North Yorkshire Horizons.

Detective Inspector Fionna McEwan of North Yorkshire Police’s Organised Crime Unit, said: “The orders are a helpful disruption tactic to interrupt the flow of drugs. Police regularly seize mobile phones from suspected drug dealers, but the numbers and associated contacts can be reactivated within hours. The orders allow us to take down the line and remove the phone number from circulation permanently, meaning it cannot ever be reactivated on another device, depriving the dealers of the key means to sell their drugs.

“They also give us a rare opportunity to communicate direct with their customers, allowing us to provide advice direct to drug users who are often vulnerable and in need of support.

“We hope communities are reassured by the action we have taken and that when we say county lines drug dealing is a priority for North Yorkshire Police, we mean it. We urge people to report any information they have about drug dealing in their communities. We will take action.”

The move follows a joint operation in Bradford on 11 February that saw six arrested including the suspected ‘managers’ of the three “county lines” plying drugs between Bradford and Harrogate.

For free, confidential help with any drug or alcohol misuse related matter call:

North Yorkshire Horizons, adult drug and alcohol service for North Yorkshire on 08000 14 14 80 or visit www.nyhorizons.org.uk

Compass REACH, young people’s drug and alcohol service for North Yorkshire on 0800 008 7452 or visit https://www.compass-uk.org/services/north-yorkshire-compass-reach/

Last modified: February 14, 2020