Hastings Police said it is ‘continuing to disrupt’ county lines drug dealers in the town after arresting a suspect each day last week.
The Hastings Observer spent the day on Friday (May 17) with Hastings Police’s drug prevention team as they pursued people suspected of being involved in the dealing and supplying of class A drugs from big cities like London.
This came at the end of a week when officers arrested at least one person suspected of involvement in county lines drug dealing every day.
Officers spotted two suspicious vehicles and made one more arrest on Friday.
At approximately 10am, officers followed a vehicle and attempted to box it in while it was stopped at traffic lights at the Halton end of Priory Road, Hastings, before it mounted the pavement and made off down Frederick Road.
Police spotted a suspicious vehicle and used two marked police cars to stop it in South Terrace before arresting the driver later on Friday.
The arrests were evidence of the steps Hastings Police are taking to prevent county lines drug dealing from taking place in the town, said a spokesman.
At the end of March, officers spotted another man dealing drugs and followed him to a guesthouse where they arrested him.
In footage recorded by PC Grant Freeman from the prevention team, officers can be seen searching a man’s room where they found crack cocaine, heroin and more than £1,000 cash.
According to police, he was arrested for possession with intent to supply and has been granted police bail.
What is county lines drug dealing?
County lines is a tactic used by gangs and organised crime groups from big cities like London to send drugs out to smaller towns.
Children and vulnerable adults are often intimidated into carrying out illegal activity on their behalf, under threat of extreme violence.
Drug users in Sussex towns call a dedicated drugs ‘deal line’, usually located somewhere in London, and then drugs runners are dispatched to their location.
A Hastings Police officer said children are often being exploited by drug gangs and being forced to sell drugs in the town.
County lines affects every town in Sussex, police say.
For more information on the threat of county lines drug dealing, click here.
How are police tackling county lines drug dealing?
During the week starting on May 13, officers carried out 12 warrants, 29 arrests, made more than £10,000 worth of class A drug seizures as well as 36 mobile phones.
In the same week, officers carried out safeguarding action to support 26 vulnerable people and visited 43 addresses where people were at risk of being ‘cuckooed’ to check on their safety.
Detective Chief Inspector Steve Rayland said: “We are continuing to disrupt dealers who try to deal dangerous drugs across our communities and are targeting those who use children to sell drugs or those who buy drugs from children; we will investigate and prosecute you. Our work will continue relentlessly, targeting those who would bring harm to local people, including often the most vulnerable and this is the result of just one week’s activity.
“Local crime is often a direct result of major drug distribution via county lines and by working together with partners to shed a light on this often hidden crime. We are sending a clear message to drug dealers that they cannot expect to go undetected in Sussex.
“We use the range of legal powers to tackle this problem, ranging from the Misuse of Drugs Act to Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking legislation and technological advances through the use of Drug Dealing Telephone Restriction Orders (DDTRO).
“We also work closely with other agencies to support those vulnerable adults and children who are exploited by county line gangs. This includes regular visits to those adults at risk of cuckooing and raising awareness with those agencies engaged with children to ensure that information is shared effectively to prevent young people being drawn in to this criminality.”