Suspected county lines drug dealer's phone seized by police to reach out to Nottinghamshire addicts
A suspected county lines drug dealer's phone is being used to send out hundreds of text messages to his customers to help them break their addiction.
Analysis of the Bestwood dealer’s hotline revealed the mobile numbers of more than 100 contacts were receiving SMS marketing updates from the drugs line.
The phone was recovered after a raid of a suspected county lines drug dealer who was arrested for conspiracy to supply class A drugs following a warrant executed in Bestwood.
The search was part of the relentless pursuit of criminals in a drugs network that is supplying heroin and crack cocaine across Nottinghamshire.
Dedicated officers detained five men, who have since been released under investigation, during the proactive work and the force hopes to make further arrests in the coming weeks.
County lines officers are now sending their own text messages from the seized phone to offer a way out to those trying to overcome substance abuse, reduce drug crime and give vulnerable people a way to seek help from local partners and support services.
The text lets the recipient know that their phone number has been in contact with a county lines phone and signposts drug users to seek support through tailored services in the hope that they will turn their life around.
Detective Inspector Paul Lefford hopes the force can reach hundreds of young people and adults through the bulk messaging tactic, with the aim to disrupt drug dealing activity.
He said: "It's crucial that we think of different ways to start a conversation with those vulnerable drug dependant users and help turn their life around.
"It's important to reach out to people not only to support them, but by helping them stop their drug abuse, we would see fewer people commit crimes to feed their habit and prevent crime before it happens.
"Our message is clear, if you a drug dealer in Nottinghamshire and you are looking to recruit, exploit and profit financially by exploiting the vulnerable we will use every tactic available to us to locate, enforce and prosecute you.
"We hope this tactic will be successful. If the support services manage to talk to one vulnerable person and they seek the support they need, then in my view the initiative will have been a success."
The new tactic is a joint strategy between the Nottinghamshire Violence Reduction Unit, Cleanslate, Change Grow Live and Nottinghamshire Police.
Recently the force has enhanced its ability to tackle and safeguard some of the most vulnerable people in society from being exploited.
Six officers have been added to the force's county lines proactive team who work tirelessly to crack down on serious and organised crime networks who pull young or vulnerable people into a criminal underworld to peddle drugs or carry out forced labour.
The new tactic of contacting the vulnerable is being used by officers during #LookCloser awareness week, which is raising awareness of child exploitation and abuse, with a focus on public spaces.
The #LookCloser campaign, run by the Children’s Society in partnership with the National County Lines Coordination Centre and police forces across the country including the British Transport Police, also seeks to challenge stereotypes of victimhood.