Gangs are using council-owned homes to deal drugs in York

Photograph: Maksym Rudek / Pexels

Gangs are using council-owned homes to deal drugs – according to a report about the growth of county lines in York.

The city is one of the “hardest hit areas” in the region for serious organised crime related to drugs.

Criminals take over the homes of vulnerable people and use them as a base to deal drugs – frequently using council-owned properties – according to a report written for City of York Council’s housing and community safety committee.

And while heroin and crack cocaine are the main drugs supplied through county lines – the report adds that “affluent middle class use of cocaine” could also be having an impact in York.

It adds that violence between rival drug dealing gangs includes threats of kidnapping and serious assault, often involving knives.

City hit by four lines

Vulnerable people are exploited by drug dealing gangs. Photograph: iStock
North Yorkshire Police say disrupting county lines is one of their main priorities – due to the exploitation of vulnerable adults and children and the violence associated with these crimes.

In the report prepared for a meeting on Monday (28 October) the police say:

  • York is currently impacted by four of these lines.

    Over the last year, county lines has become the predominant form of drug dealing in the city.

    A common feature of county lines presence is ‘cuckooing’. This is when dealers take over the home of a vulnerable person and operate their drug dealing from that address.

    This has been prevalent in York, particularly within council owned properties.

A review said: “Cuckooing was known to be a problem within properties managed by York, but the problem was not known about in private sector housing provision.”

“They did say that there had been spikes in violence that surrounded ‘cuckooed’ properties.”

It adds that the problem should be tackled carefully – or drug dealing could be pushed on to the city’s streets.

Every home

A spokesman for the police said they recently teamed up with the council to visit every home in two York streets hit by county lines – but the areas could not be named due to vulnerable residents.

The report adds:

  • York is one of the hardest hit areas across North Yorkshire.

    Whilst the police have a good understanding of the supply and demand through those they interact with, the true picture is still unknown.

    This unknown demand largely relates to the affluent middle class use of cocaine, which whilst it may be small, will contribute to the demand on county lines drug dealing within the city.

Jane Mowat
Jane Mowat, head of community safety at the council, said: “Like other cities with excellent transport and communication links, areas of York are targeted by drug dealers.

“We are proactively engaged in stopping this. Immediately we are aware of incidents or activities, along with our partners including other local authorities and police forces, we take action.

“This includes taking part in the recent national crackdown on County Lines activities. We have closed homes, where appropriate, to break the cycle of criminality and to support and protect vulnerable or targeted people, and with our partners across the region and beyond, we share intelligence and support each other to stop this destructive trade.”

York is one of the biggest importer of county lines in Yorkshire and the Humber – meaning people come from other areas to sell drugs in the city.

The meeting takes place on Monday at West Offices at 5.30pm.

Anyone with concerns about county lines should call police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.