ROCUs work to tackle drug-related crime by using specialist tactics to target the high and mid-level offenders who import illicit substances into the UK and look to sell them to other criminal groups.
The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 is the main legislation covering drugs. It puts drugs into different categories, known as class A, B and C. Substances regulated in this way are known as 'controlled', with Class A drugs those considered to be the most harmful.
Under the Misuse of Drugs Act it is an offence to:
possess a controlled substance
possess a controlled substance with the intent to supply
unlawfully supply a controlled drug (even when there's no charge made for the drug)
allow premises you occupy or manage to be used for the purpose of drug taking
You can help by calling Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 if you have any information about dealing.
Crimestoppers gathers intelligence and passes it to the police to help arrest and charge criminals. For more information visit the Crimestoppers website.
County lines sees urban drug dealers, often from major cities such as London, move into suburban areas and market and coastal towns, using a dedicated mobile phone number or deal line to run their criminal operation.
Due to the nature of county lines crossing force borders, ROCUs are key to coordinating the response to tackling those involved.
Each ROCU provides a vital link between forces and other public bodies, charities and external stakeholders to ensure that those looking to exploit young and vulnerable people are apprehended, while those being targeted are giving the support they need.
Who is vulnerable to county lines exploitation?
Children as young as 12 being exploited by gangs to courier drugs out of their local area (15-16 years is the most common age)
Both girls and boys can be exploited
Often gangs use social media to target children and young people
Class A drug dealers are often targeted so that gangs can take over their homes (cuckooing)
How to spot possible victims
Changes in behaviour
Appears to have a number of mobile phones
Unexplained bus or train tickets
Truancy from school or going missing from home
Unexplained gifts such as clothes, trainers and cash
Signs of assault and malnutrition
If you have information about criminal gangs who have moved into your area, please let your local police force know, so that we can help to keep your communities safe.