Sussex Police has received more than 350 ‘intelligence logs’ from safeguarding teams about crimes such as modern slavery, exploitation, cuckooing, drugs and guns.
The tip-offs came from professionals and community safety partners working together to protect vulnerable people from being exploited by criminals.
Over the past two years, their work has not only helped to keep adults and children safe but has led to a number of criminal investigations being launched.
Details were included in a report to West Sussex County Council’s environment, communities and fire select committee, and were due to have been discussed at a meeting yesterday (Thursday).
The report centres around tackling county lines – a term used when drug gangs from big cities move into smaller towns, often using violence to drive out local dealers and exploiting children and vulnerable people to sell drugs.
They have been known to take over homes belonging to vulnerable people – usually those with mental health or addiction problems – and use them as bases. The process is known as cuckooing.
Knowing how to spot the signs of cuckooing was included in awareness training given to more than 750 professionals by the county’s community safety and wellbeing service.
Organisations which took up the training included the district and borough councils, mental health services, schools, the fire and rescue service and A&E staff.
In addition, 1,900 Year 9 pupils in Crawley will take part in workshops aimed at building resilience to criminal exploitation by gangs and county lines.
Known as the Safer Crawley School Event, the sessions will be held later this month and have been organised by the Crawley Community Safety Partnership and Crawley and Mid- Sussex Serious and Organised Crime Partnership Group.
Advice from Sussex Police said that county lines gangs frequently used vulnerable children and adults to carry out work on their behalf.
Have you noticed any of the following in people you know?
- Persistently missing from school, college or where they should be, often to be found out-of-area
- Unexplained acquisition of money, clothes or mobile phones
- Excessive receipts of texts or phone calls
- Relationships with controlling, older people or gang association
- Leaving home or care without explanation
- Significant changes in emotional wellbeing
- A decline in school performance
- Unexplained injuries or suspicion of self-harm
You can report any concerns online: sussex.police.uk or call 101. In an emergency, always call 999.
Report by Karen Dunn. local democracy reporter