County lines drug gang disputes behind fresh spate of Norwich violence

Police swarmed Magpie Road in Norwich amid reports of a stabbing.

Police swarmed Magpie Road in Norwich after a teenager had been found stabbed in Motum Road. - Credit: Submitted

Conflicts between drug gangs linked to county lines are behind a fresh spate of stabbings and violent incidents, a city police chief has said.

Disputes over drug supplies and shifting loyalties between drug runners and dealers had spilled over into violence on the streets, said Superintendent Terry Lordan.

Superintendent Terry Lordan, Norfolk Constabularys district commander for Norwich. Picture: Nick But

Superintendent Terry Lordan, Norfolk Constabulary district commander for Norwich. - Credit: Nick Butcher

The latest in a feud between warring gangs saw a teenager found with knife wounds in Motum Road on February 3.

Police investigations linked the stabbing to an aggravated burglary at a property in Magpie Road the previous evening. 

Superintendent Lordan said the incidents were “very much linked to individuals that are linked to county lines”. 

“It’s important for people to know that this is within the criminal fraternity,” he said. 

Police swarmed Magpie Road in Norwich amid reports of a stabbing.

Police swarmed Magpie Road in Norwich after a teenager had been found stabbed in Motum Road. - Credit: Submitted

“It’s people who are conducting criminal activity who are being targeted back and forth. It is around the commodity [drugs].

“Within county lines you have different groups with different lines that will assault each other and exploit different people. 

“And within local areas youths get drawn into different lines and these youths move between the different lines.”

An image of Joe Dix, victim of Vale Green stabbing in Norwich.

An image of Joe Dix, victim of Vale Green stabbing in Norwich. - Credit: Norfolk Constabulary

Investigations are also continuing into the murder of 18-year-old Joe Dix who was stabbed to death in Vale Green, Mile Cross.

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Superintendent Lordan refused to be drawn on whether it could also be linked to county lines.

“We have detectives who are working around the clock as you’d expect us to be doing and I cannot be drawn in terms as to what has led to it and the background to it as the investigation is currently on-going,” he said.

“Our thoughts go out to the family and friends. It's an absolutely tragic incident that will have people worried and alarmed. I’m a father and I cannot imagine what they are going through.” 

Flowers are left on the scene of a suspected murder on Friday night in Vale Green.Byline: Sonya Du

Flowers are left on the scene of a suspected murder on Friday night in Vale Green - Credit: Sonya Duncan

High visibility patrols are being stepped up and police are set to carry out a series of street surgeries and resident's group meetings are being held in a bid to reassure shocked communities.

Superintendent Lordan said: "I absolutely understand why people are concerned. We will certainly have a raised police presence for weeks to come and we will be looking at every possible thing that we can do to reduce that risk.

“We have had three incidents that have got people concerned and worried but they are very rare. 

Police in Magpie Road following reports of a stabbing

Police in Magpie Road following reports of a stabbing - Credit: Francis Redwood

“This is not the normal common practice for Norwich nor will it be allowed to be common for these incidents to happen.

“Our officers are working around the clock to bring people to justice. In relation to the incidents at Magpie Road and Motum Road we have had a number of people arrested and people charged and that investigation is still on-going.”

A 17-year-old boy, from Coltishall, arrested in connection with the Motum Road stabbing appeared before Norwich Magistrates' Court on Monday

He has been remanded in custody after admitting two counts of possessing a bladed article and one count of affray.

Another 17-year-old has been released on bail while enquiries continue.

Superintendent Lordan said the force was “waging a war on county lines” with 2,640 arrests since 2016.

There has been significant progress to dismantle active drugs lines in the past 18 months through working with the Met Police.

“Eighteen months ago we had 36 active county lines within Norwich, we are currently down to five and those are actively being targeted,” he said.

Police on patrol

Two men have been charged after an officer was spat at in Norwich. - Credit: Archant

“We have had 77 convictions with 100pc guilty pleas, with total sentences of 188 years, as a result of the evidence we have gained.

“We have looked at disruption then we have looked to arrest the line holders. We have been able to work with the Met, go into London and the people who are exploiting these children we have managed to arrest.

“Rather than concentrating on a runner, we are trying to take out the people who are exploiting these people and taking out the mid and upper level.”