Businesses in Cheshire linked to organised crime
Fifty businesses in Cheshire are connected to organised crime groups, according to DCI Chris Ankers from Cheshire Police.
Revealed at the Cheshire West and Chester Council’s health and wellbeing board on Wednesday, he told the committee that there were 28 organised crime groups identified in the county with 186 people involved that they knew of.
They are working with police forces in other regions to tackle the issue, with DCI Ankers admitting that the likelihood is that it’s Cheshire’s proximity to large cities in the north west that is having this impact. The rise of county lines – where organised crime groups in big cities use youngsters to deal drugs in more rural areas.
He said: “We are the poor little countrified, tractor-driving neighbours of Liverpool and Manchester,” he said.
He went on to tell the committee how county lines teams draw in vulnerable people by getting them addicted to drugs, waiting until they get into debt, and forcing them to repay that debt by dealing drugs.
He said: “A female is into drugs. She has mental health issues. She goes to buy drugs, and the county lines team finds out she is vulnerable. They make her a brew, and give her some drugs. Before you know it, her house is the drug dealing location and she’s unable to leave her home.
DCI Ankers also told the committee that drug dealing in prisons is a major issue
“We used to think long ago that inside prison people used to learn about burgling houses,” he added. “It’s not like that now. It’s all about creating criminal networks within prisons. Every weekend at Risley there will be a drone that’s carrying a massive amount of drugs. We’ve intercepted two and the amount is colossal. The person operating the drone can send it to a phone. The amount of phones they have got [in prison] probably exceeds the amount we have got here [at the meeting].”
Judith Burbidge, director of neighbourhoods and wellbeing at Weaver Vale Housing Trust, added: “I know about this because my front-line staff are talking about it.
“I know we’ve got some of these county lines in our area. The impact on people close to it is huge.”