Harrogate named "area of concern" by National Crime Agency over drug-dealing crime

The National Crime Agency has pinpointed Harrogate as an “area of concern” due to the rapid growth of County Lines drug-dealing crime in the town, according to North Yorkshire's Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.

Julia Mulligan added that Government funding had so far failed to fully recognise the impact of cross-county drug dealing in the region, while police couldn't "arrest their way out of the problem".

The comments, made at a meeting of the North Yorkshire police, fire and crime panel, highlight the growth of County Lines crime in the district.

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The National Crime Agency is the UK's lead agency against organised crime; including human, weapon and drug trafficking; cyber crime; and economic crime across regional and international borders.

County lines: Almost half of North Yorkshire drug-dealing arrests under 18While the agency has already liaised with local police forces across the country regarding County Lines, the designation of Harrogate as an area of concern means it could come in line from increased support and scrutiny.

It came as Mrs Mulligan presented a report to the committee highlighting the current situation regarding North Yorkshire.

Among the statistics captured in the report was that Harrogate is impacted by seven organised "lines" bringing drugs to the town.

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Police have identified four in York, two in Scarborough and Whitby, and one in Skipton.

Six lines originate in West Yorkshire, three in Manchester, two in Liverpool and one in Cleveland.

Harrogate teenagers facing threat by 'County Lines' drug gangsMrs Mulligan emphasised the need for multiple agencies to work together to prevent vulnerable people becoming involved in County Lines, saying that "the police service (can't) arrest their way out of the problem".

Talking to the local democracy reporting service earlier this year, an expert on county lines crime said towns like Harrogate, that research has indicated growing numbers of young men are setting up drug dealing networks in wealthy Yorkshire towns, particularly Harrogate.

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Dr Mohammed Qasim, a criminologist at Leeds Beckett University who studies ethnic minority gangs and drug dealers, said increased profit margins and less competition from fellow dealers had seen growing numbers of dealers move their operations to towns and villages instead of cities.

Harrogate among the wealthy Yorkshire towns targeted by county lines drug dealers, expert says"There's no better place to take (drug dealing operations) right now than affluent towns," Dr Qasim said.

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter