Shropshire Star

Police 'winning war on county lines' after Oswestry named most at risk from drugs gangs

Police in Shropshire say they are winning the war against county lines drug dealers – after Oswestry was named as the town most at risk from gangs.


Concerns have been raised that gangs of youths in Oswestry are “vulnerable” to temptation and are being exploited by dealers from Liverpool.

But Inspector Tracy Ryan, the safer neighbourhood team inspector for North Shropshire, said officers have smashed the cycle.

She said: “Oswestry did have an issue with county lines specifically a line from Merseyside.

“However due to our work with partners and the concerted efforts of our local organised crime team and our serious organised crime unit we have taken enforcement action on the supply element, resulting in a number of arrests and disruption to the line.


“The local youths involved have been identified and due to intensive work by ourselves and partners have been diverted from county lines activity or subject to community protection warnings protecting them and the community from further criminality.”

Oswestry was named as the most at risk of the seven main areas in the county targeted by county lines dealers in a Shropshire Council report last month.

Inspector Ryan added that officers are currently working with schools and colleges to help protect youngsters.


“Due to our experience with the county lines issue, we recognise that local youths are vulnerable to grooming by the drug suppliers so have taken steps with schools, other educational establishments, youth groups, the local authority and others to educate children and parents to the risk and how to spot the signs which has proven very successful,” she said.

“Ultimately the SNT’s aspiration is to make Oswestry and the surrounding areas as inhospitable to county lines gangs as possible.

“We seek to achieve that in a number of ways – firstly by being a visible, approachable presence in our communities.

“Building relationships so that the public are confident they can tell us about any concerns they have about drug activity.

“Secondly by educating parents to the signs of county lines activity and ensuring that young people are aware of the risks of being groomed and showing them the reality of being involved in drugs use and supply.

“Thirdly by taking proactive steps to prevent those attempting to supply in our area and taking positive action against any drug activity in Oswestry.”

Councillor Sandy Best, Oswestry Town Council member, added: “I would hope that the police are continuing with surveillance as there are far too many youngsters out there vulnerable to temptation and lacking in aspiration other than being anti society.”