City councillors could be trained to help spot signs of ‘county lines’ drug activity

Police during a drugs raid in Norwich. Photo: Denise Bradley

Police during a drugs raid in Norwich. Photo: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Councillors, council staff and taxi drivers in Norwich could be given training to help them spot the tell-tale signs of drugs activity in the city area.

Laura McGillivray, chief executive of Norwich City Council Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Laura McGillivray, chief executive of Norwich City Council Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

Following a recommendation from the city council's scrutiny committee around county lines, it was revealed training could be put in place to help councillors recognise when drug dealing may be happening in their area.

Laura McGillivray, chief executive of Norwich City Council, said the idea had been floated at meetings of the Norfolk Community Safety Partnership, and that with councillors being well placed in their community they would be able to provide 'an exceptional help'.

She said: 'There have been conversations around the role of councillors can play and we are looking to provide training to help with this.

'All the eyes and ears will help gather intelligence about the issue and it is a clear example of where councillors can be really helpful.'

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The scrutiny recommendations were given top the city council's cabinet, prepared after the committee received a presentation on county lines from Paul Sanford, Norfolk police's deputy chief constable.

The presentation explained the context of county lines, in that it was the dealing of class A drugs in rural areas, often involving the exploitation of vulnerable people.

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Members were also told about the practice of 'cuckooing', whereby a vulnerable person's home is taken over as a base for drug dealing.

James Wright, chairman of the scrutiny committee, said: 'We considered county lines and it is a difficult thing, as how much can this council take on?

'However, we prepared these recommendations to see if there is any more we can do.'

The recommendations called on the council to provide training on safeguarding and awareness of drug activity to 'front line staff' - meaning customer facing members of staff at the council. However, the chief executive added that councillors could too receive training.

Scrutiny also called the council to consult with the police over removing the tags which demarcate territories, to review tenancy agreements to make sure measures are in place to swiftly address any concerns and to check if safeguarding training for taxi drivers is up to scratch to recognise the issues as well.

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