More County Line drug gangs in western Suffolk than Ipswich, West Suffolk Council has been told
There are now more active drug lines in western Suffolk than in Ipswich, district councillors have been warned.
At a meeting of West Suffolk Council’s overview and scrutiny committee, members were told there were now between 17 and 25 operational county line drug routes in the west of the county.
Suffolk County Councillor Joanna Spicer, who sits on the community safety partnership board, warned that routes were constantly evolving, and told district councillors there were now more in the west than previous hotspot Ipswich.
County Lines are routes drug gangs – based in big cities – used to funnel drugs into towns like Newmarket and Mildenhall.
Drug barons controlling the gangs typically groom children and vulnerable people into becoming mules, transporting drugs around the country.
Cllr Spicer said it ‘was not the only crime’ but often had links with serious crime, like child sexual exploitation and violent knife attacks.
She said the area was seeing a rise in County Lines drug crime because the police had shut down previous routes and had been disrupting active lines.
In the last 12 months, Suffolk Police have arrested 118 people in connection with drugs. And the force has taken more than £24,000 worth of drugs off the streets and seized £35,000 in cash from dealers.
But Newmarket councillor Michael Anderson urged the police to better inform residents about what happened after they had been arrested.
“Until we know they are taking these people off the streets for a long time we are not going to get drugs off our streets,” he said.
Councillors said because of cutbacks in community support officers, police were missing out on vital intelligence - with members blasting Suffolk Police for not attending many town meetings.
Cllr Tony Brown said police meetings used to have up to 100 people attend, and were a important way residents could voice their concern about crime.
“People are extremely frustrated. There’s drug dealing going on and most residents feel that the police have abandoned them,” he said.