Last Friday, I attended a Stop and Search operation at Andover Train Station alongside Hampshire Constabulary and the British Transport Police – three people were arrested alongside a seizure of Class A drugs and intelligence data. This operation was not random, but part of a national crackdown on County Lines gangs.
As Policing Minister, I’m determined to see these gangs get the justice they deserve, and the transport system is key to stopping them. These gangs use the rail network to traffic drugs from cities to rural towns and sadly Andover is a frequent target. But the gangs don’t move the product themselves – they use children. Often vulnerable, often threatened and certainly scared, these gangs pick children they feel they can manipulate and put them in the firing line, many fall victim to knife crime in the process.
The BTP are going above and beyond to locate these children, and the drugs they carry, while in transit – severing the supply lines, saving the children, and depriving the gangs of the funds they need to survive.
But they need our help. Next time you’re on a train, if you see a child or young person travelling alone who looks nervous, or if something looks out of place, then please consider making a report – it could save a life.