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  • Andrew Frere-Smith

Hidden in plain sight


The other day I was looking for my glasses. I couldn’t find them anywhere. I even recruited my wife to help me in the search. It was only when my son came in and happened to ask what we were doing that the mystery was solved. He said, “You mean the ones on the top of your head?”


The glasses were ‘hidden in plain sight’, they were openly displayed, yet my mind didn’t register that they were there. I looked everywhere except the most obvious place.


Today, criminals use children to transport drugs around the country. It is a particular tactic of County Lines gangs. They do it because children are less conspicuous. We don’t expect a child on a bus, or train, to be carrying thousands of pounds worth of drugs hidden about their person.


These drug couriers are often vulnerable young people that have been specifically targeted. They are victims groomed with gifts and then controlled through violence, intimidation and coercion. They are modern-day slaves, trafficked around the country for criminal gain. Without help, they find it impossible to escape.


County Lines is a significant problem in Norfolk. You may have seen the newspaper articleshowing a recent police action. The Safer Norfolk Plan 2021-24consultation paper points out that ‘Norfolk is one of the safest counties in the country but is still faced with significant and diverse community safety challenges, ranging from combatting the supply of drugs through county lines and growing levels of domestic violence, to modern slavery and environmental crime.’


The plan sets out how the Norfolk County Community Safety Partnership (NCCSP) will respond over the next three years, tackling these safety challenges. Regarding criminal exploitation, it says this:

Criminal exploitationinvolves the use of power imbalances for coercion, control, manipulation or deception of adults and children to take part in criminal activity or for the purpose of criminal gains and includes modern slavery, child criminal exploitation, and child sexual exploitation. These crime types are hidden by their nature, although the number of cases locally has risen over recent years. The harm caused by these crimes is often hidden and significant. Preventing these crimes, safeguarding victims and disrupting perpetrators must be prioritised.


The report concludes that ‘we must work together better than ever as a partnership to ensure we deliver an effective response ... and a safer Norfolk.’


Would you like to help raise awareness of County Lines?


The Clewer Initiative is a charity that can help. They have designed a really useful online course called ‘Breaking County Lines. If you would like me to deliver the course for you , please let me know.


Andrew



Police drugs crack down - https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/crime/norfolk-police-arrest-300-children-in-drugs-crackdown-8008572

NCCSP strategic plan consultation - https://www.norfolk-pcc.gov.uk/police-and-crime-plan/working-in-partnership/community-safety/nccsp-strategic-plan-consultation/

Clewer Initiative Breaking County Lines - https://www.theclewerinitiative.org/breaking-county-lines-online

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