Policing county lines

  • Created by: amyoakey
  • Created on: 03-01-20 19:33


Coomber & Moyle, 2017

Drug Supply Groups migrating from cities to smaller towns

Predominantly from London, but also Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool

NCA, 2017

"Host" towns attractive due to amply supply of customers and less challenging competition from competitors. 

Spicer, 2018

Single 'branded' phone line is central. 

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"low hanging fruit?"

Coomber et al 2017

‘county lines’ model (where sellers travel beyond the county, and thus police, boundaries) relies on the exploitation of local drug users at the target location, who are sought as customers, recruited as drug ‘runners’ or are ‘cuckooed’ (the practice of gangs taking over a vulnerable person’s property for the purpose of selling illicit drugs). 

Responding to victims of cuckooing

  • Typically users of heroin and/or crack
  • don't fit 'ideal victim' status (Christie, 1986)
  • issues of possession related offences can make things more challenging. 
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Harm Reduction

Harms of County Lines

  • Serious violence  - 'the spectrum of harm' - exploitation is widespread but physical violence and coercion isn't evident in all cases. 
  • The exploitation of vulnerable people - young people, 'cuckooing' (Buttera, 2013). 

Bespoke responses 

  • Use of Modern Slavery Act 
  • focuses more on the wider crimes rather than drug offences
  • recognises exploitation and vulnerability
  • could be a "badge of shame" to offenders. 
  • HOWEVER - would not really tarnish offenders and it isn't very realistic. 

Drug Dealing Telecommunications Restriction Order (DDTRO)

  • Focuses specifically on disputing the business model and recognises the centrality of the phone and seeks to use this to their advantage. 
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Symbolic policing

Coomber et al (2017)

  • Edelman (1985)  frequently uses the term ‘political spectacle’ to describe his understanding of the political system. The ‘spectacle’ he defines as a ‘partly illusory parade of threats and reassurances, most of which have little bearing upon the successes and ordeals people encounter'. Meaning in the political spectacle arises dynamically between politicians' role-taking, spectators' interactive perceptions and a changing social and economic environment. Put simply, Edelman’s framework contests that as far as the mass public is concerned, politics is a constructed world of conflicting meanings that involves its audience by arousing emotional responses in them, but generally has little influence on people’s day to day action.
  • In addition to the coercive power afforded to them, the police exhibit an ‘invisible’ symbolic power that has a deeper meaning (Bourdieu 1991). To the public, the police represent much more than their actual roles in society; their actions ‘communicate meaning, not only about the police’ and their function, ‘but also about power and authority in society’ (Loader and Mulcahy 2003, p. 43). In the context of everyday life, Bittner (1990) argues that the symbolic power of the police is bolstered by their authority to act in situations in which ‘something-that ought-not-to-be-happening-and-about-which-someone-had-better-do-something-now’ (p. 246). As Loader highlights (1997), the capacity to intervene, and to stick around until the immediate problem is resolved is what underpins the range of tasks the police are requested to perform. It is important however to highlight that the symbolism of the police as ‘guardians’ (Loader 1997) and bastions or law and order (Jackson and Bradford 2009) will not be realised for people across all social groups. 
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Signal Crimes

Drawing on the interactionist tradition, Innes’ (2014) formulation advocates that all social signals are possessed of three component parts: the ‘expression’ – that is the signifier or denotative aspect; the ‘content’ – what is connotatively signified; and an ‘effect’–‘the change induced from the connecting of a content to an expression’ (p. 3). Innes illustrates how these components fit together by presenting the example of a person describing how they had been affected by a neighbours’ burglary. Innes explains that the burglary itself functions as the ‘expression’ and the resulting ‘effect’ is that the individual ‘felt anxious’. The content from the signal is signified by the individual reflecting on the expression and saying ‘I actually did not feel safe’ (p. 3). Data from Innes’ empirical studies suggest that drug-related crime and disorder have a fairly ‘dominant position’ in terms of shaping how people perceive levels of neighbourhood security, ranking at number one in three research sites and demonstrating associations with ‘affective, behavioural and cognitive effects’ (Innes 2014, p. 17). It is perhaps unsurprising that low-level drug crimes and drug use are understood as symbols of disorder or a threat to the social values of a community, and there is a wealth of academic literature that supports and elucidates the prominence of drug-related signal crimes

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