Crime and theft in the wealthiest areas of the UK have risen by 26 per cent, compared with 11 percent elsewhere according to the latest crime statistics released by the Home Office.
Robbery, theft and drug offences in the wealthiest areas of England and Wales are exceeding the national average by up to four times, as criminal gangs deliberately target rural and suburban communities.
More crime fuelled by demand for drugs
The Telegraph analysed the Home Office statistics, and found that the rise in crime is linked to an increased demand for drugs in wealthy areas. This increased demand is fuelled in part by increased availability due to county lines drug running, which has led to more crimes being committed in these areas.
County Lines is a term used when drug gangs from inner-cities expand their operations into more rural communities and small towns. Urban gangs, which often have more resources, use violence to drive out local dealers and exploit young and vulnerable people to sell drugs. These dealers will use dedicated mobile phone lines, known as ‘deal lines‘, to take orders from drug users.
County lines drug crime is estimated to be worth around £500m, with individual ‘lines’ capable of making £800,000 profits in a year.
Rural crime increase
In some more rural counties, such as parts of Oxfordshire, where the average household income is £55,000, drug offences has risen by 60 percent in one year. Similarly, some parts of Kent such as Maidstone, where the average household income is £64,500, have witnessed an increase in violence and sexual offences by more than 70 percent. In central Cambridge, where the average household income is £70,900, robberies are up almost 50 percent.
Countering the threat
To counter the threats that county lines has presented, it has been announced that 20,000 new police officers are to be recruited across the nation. A recent UK-wide county lines crackdown saw police arrest more than 700 suspects and seize drugs including cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin with a value of more than £420,000.
Additional police manpower and drug seizures are welcome news for those living and working in areas affected by county lines. However, it is thought that there are an estimated 2,000 lines in operation throughout the UK, so continued law enforcement activity is still required.