Police swoop to arrest three people in Burnley and Padiham in operation focused on offenders exploiting children into dealing drugs

Three people have been arrested as part of a week of action tackling county lines offending in East Lancashire.

Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 3:45 pm

Yesterday officers carried out simultaneous early-morning drugs warrants at addresses in Burnley and Padiham as part of an operation focusing on the exploitation of children being coerced into dealing Class A drugs.

Three people were arrested on suspicion of conspiring to supply Class A drugs, with officers finding phones, cash and heroin with an approximate street value of £35,000.

Among the officers involved in the arrests were targeting teams, Engage, Neighbourhood Policing Teams, the Exploitation Team and response officers.

Three people have been arrested in Burnley and Padiham as part of a police crackdown on offenders who exploit children into dealing drugs

Following consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, Zeeshan Khan (23) of Russell Terrace, Padiham; Mitchell Brookes (19) of Nairne Street, Burnley and a 17-year-old boy from Burnley; were all charged with conspiracy to supply crack cocaine and heroin.

They were all due to appear before Blackburn Magistrates this morning.

As well as targeted pro-active work, officers worked alongside partner agencies to provide intervention activities aimed at reaching youngsters before they become victims of county lines.

These included talks in schools provided by Parents Against Child Exploitation, engaging with vulnerable families and ensuring key contacts, such as taxi drivers, are aware of the signs of county lines.

Det Insp. Martin Melvin, who leads on Child Exploitation in the east of the county, said: “The work carried out as part of the County Lines Intensification Week has been hugely successful and has been a great example of all functions of policing in East Lancashire working together to disrupt organised crime and protect the most vulnerable members of society.

“Although this work came as part of a week of action, we will continue to target organised criminal gangs who seek to exploit children into dealing Class A drugs.

"We are also committed to working with our partners to put intervention measures in place to stop youngsters being dragged into this miserable and violent lifestyle.”

Although the signs of county lines grooming can be hard to see, they include; having a new phone, a new bike, new clothes, new friends, new habits and new attitudes. Child victims also frequently go missing, they use nicknames to refer to other people, they have a new controlling girlfriend or boyfriend, disengage from school, and often have unexplained injures.

If you are worried about a young or vulnerable person, you can visit eyes-open.co.uk to find out more.

To report a crime in your area call 101 or 999 in an emergency or if it is ongoing.