Exmouth of several Devon towns impacted by dangerous drug dealings, report finds

PUBLISHED: 11:09 07 February 2019 | UPDATED: 11:09 07 February 2019

Picture: Mark Atherton

Picture: Mark Atherton

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The full state of crime and disorder in Devon have been revealed in a stark new report by the Safer Devon Partnership.

The report outlines that County Lines (dangerous drugs networks) are ranked as the biggest risk and threat to the county, while child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, problem drinkers, problem drug users, modern slavery and a terrorist incident are also ranked as high level threats.

These high-level threat areas are mostly those considered ‘hidden’ crimes where the people affected are less likely to report what has happened to the police or other agencies, the report states, but adds that they can have a long-term damaging effect on people’s lives and most of these areas are associated with Organised Crime Groups that target the most vulnerable people.

A rise in teenagers being exploited as part of County Lines activity in Devon is outlined as a key threat in the report, which also reveals 19 per cent of 15-year-olds have been drunk within the last four weeks, drug related deaths are increasing, and modern slavery crimes in Devon have increased by 129 per cent.

Devon as a county is experiencing higher levels of County Lines activity than Plymouth and Cornwall, the report says.

Towns that have been impacted include, but are not limited to, Exmouth, Axminster, Barnstaple, Bideford, Newton Abbot, Okehampton, Ilfracombe, Exeter, and Tiverton.

County Lines typically involve a gang, usually made up of young males, from a large urban area travelling to smaller locations to sell class A drugs, specifically crack cocaine and heroin.

The report says: “These gangs can at times be almost virtual in that you don’t always get a group of young males travelling together and their business operating model is one that is forever changing and they know that travelling in groups exposes them to a degree of risk from law enforcement.

“There is increased concern in communities when some of the activity becomes visible, this impacts on fear of crime and quality of life of local residents. Drug related paraphernalia being left around is dangerous and has a negative impact on the community.”

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