Arrests made over suspected ‘county lines’ drug dealing in Eastbourne park

A major police investigation has uncovered suspected drug dealing in and around Gildredge Park, Eastbourne
A major police investigation has uncovered suspected drug dealing in and around Gildredge Park, Eastbourne

Police have made a number of arrests after reports of Class A drug dealing in Gildredge Park.

Following a flood of phone calls about suspected drug activity in the Old Town park, police said plain-clothed officers were deployed to the area and carried out enforcement at a nearby flat.

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Inspector Rachel Barrow said, “It was established a local drug user was in fact being ‘cuckooed’ by a county line, hence the more visible presence of drug users in the area. Drugs and cash were seized and three arrests were made as a result of the police work earlier this month.”

Those arrested included a 48-year-old man from Eastbourne, on suspicion of being concerned in the supply a Class A Drug. He was released under investigation, police said.

An 18-year-old man from Bexley in Kent was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply heroin, bailed to June 3.

And a 19-year-old man from Southwark, London, was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply a Class A drug as well as cannabis. He was also bailed until June 3.

Inspector Barrow said, “Work continues to disrupt that activity and safeguard those involved. However, we have also asked for assistance from partners at Eastbourne council to try and keep the park, and the surrounding streets, safe and free from open drug use and drug waste.”

Police disrupting gangs’ county lines operations in Sussex

Inspector Barrow said extra police patrols have been taking place and officers have reported back on the number of families and fitness groups using the park on a daily basis.

She said, “We are committed to ensure that the park is a safe space for all to use and will ensure that we do our best to maintain a presence and use the local intelligence to direct our resources to where the problem stems from.

“Going forward, we would encourage reports such as this to be made to us as it will help us to understand the problem and find a joint solution with our key partners. Whilst such calls may not result in immediate action being taken at the time, all information and intelligence is valued and as in this case, can be put to good use.”

What is county lines and cuckooing?

• Typical ‘county lines’ activity involves an organised crime group from a large urban area travelling to smaller locations, to sell class A drugs – in particular cocaine and heroin.

• The group may challenge an existing group from the local area or another county lines enterprise, which can lead to violence.

• The name ‘county lines’ is used because the organised crime group establishes and operates a single telephone number for customers ordering drugs, operated from outside the area, which becomes their ‘brand’. Unlike other criminal activities where telephone numbers are changed on a regular basis, these telephone numbers have value so are maintained and protected.

• The organised crime groups tend to use a local property, generally belonging to a vulnerable person, sometimes drug users, as a base from which to deal. This is known as ‘cuckoooing’ and will often happen by force or coercion. In some instances victims have left their homes in fear of violence.

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