Fringe Box



230 Arrests as Nine Forces Stage Roads Crackdown on County Lines

Published on: 19 Sep, 2020
Updated on: 23 Sep, 2020

A detailed search of a suspect’s car

Nine police forces have made 230 arrests in a three-day combined Operation Pandilla involving 1,065 officers and using ANPR cameras to tackle county lines drug-dealers and linked violence.

“Strike teams” from the Met, Surrey, Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Thames Valley, Hampshire, City of London and British Transport Police concentrated on arterial routes and motorways in and around London such as the M25, M11, M4 and the M20.

The arrests were for offences including: attempted murder, possession with intent to supply class A and B drugs, possession of offensive weapons, possession of firearms, assault and possession of criminal property.

A total of 22 knives and other weapons were recovered, 54 vehicles and 62 illegal items, including drugs seized and six warrants executed.

The Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras linked to intelligence-loaded computers helped officers pick out passing cars for stop-and-searches.

One large amount of cash discovered

Surrey Detective Inspector Dee Fielding said: “Tackling county lines and related harm is a priority, not only for Surrey Police, but for law enforcement nationally. The impact of drugs networks in our communities can be devastating and leads to knock-on violence, exploitation, anti-social behaviour and an increase in thefts.

“There are hundreds of county lines operating across the UK, and this operation makes best use of coordinated activity to identify perpetrators, reduce violence, confiscate the proceeds of crime and safeguard the vulnerable.

“Although these operations will have substantially disrupted numerous county lines, our work is ongoing and we are pursuing all available means of strengthening the national response.”

Met Chief Inspector Jack May Robinson said: “This operation involved neighbouring forces we continuously work with as part of our day to day policing. We’ve built on those relationships to work together and drive down on those using the road network for criminal activity.

“Some of the individuals arrested are extremely dangerous, lead criminal lifestyles and exploit vulnerable people to run drugs and commit crime. Due to the need to safeguard those who have been exploited, we resourced a dedicated phone-line of trained officers to give specialist advice to officers, ensuring the best care and response possible.

A cuffed suspect watches as a car search is carried out.

“Operation Pandilla is part of our effort to target the drivers of violent crime. Drugs are inextricably linked to a high proportion of the violence; therefore we will continue to target those who exploit children to peddle drugs and target the most vulnerable within our communities. We simply can’t do this alone and must work with our partners.

“Our message to criminals using the road network to transport drugs and illegal assets is clear. We are tirelessly working 24/7 to disrupt you. If you are stopped with anything illegal we will arrest you and put you before the courts. We are working stronger together and sharing intelligence across borders to make it as hard as possible for you to run county lines.”

ANPR cameras scanning several cars simultaneously are also used day to day, guiding officers to vehicles with no insurance or owned by a wanted person wanted by police.

Police also urge anyone who may have useful information to contact them. Community intelligence can be used to great effect to not only detect, but also prevent crime, keep London safe and save young lives.

If you don’t want to speak to the police, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. It is a totally independent charity and you remain 100 per cent anonymous.Their website is

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