The County Lines phenomenon has become one of the most significant drug market developments in the UK over recent years. This book analyses how it is being responded to by the police in affected provincial areas. Drawing on unique ethnographic fieldwork, it takes readers into police stations and out onto the streets with officers, providing timely insight into the policing of this high profile and challenging drug market context. The book considers the use of new police tactics that have been proposed and familiar methods that officers regularly embarked on. Through a sophisticated theoretical framework it argues that the policing of County Lines can often be considered ‘symbolic’, with concerns regularly placed on sending out strong messages that appear superficial when closely examined. Alongside this, however, there appears to be a progressive shift towards a more pragmatic drugs policing approach that embraces harm reduction principles.This cutting-edge research speaks to academics in Criminology and Policing, and to practitioners and policy makers.
1.1 The realities of drug markets
1.2 Policing County Lines
1.3 Policing drug markets: a research agenda
1.4 Book structure
2. County Lines
2.1 Conceptualising ‘import’ markets2.2 What’s in a name?
2.3 The phenomenon’s (official) development
2.4 County Lines as ‘chronocentrism’?
2.5 A product of saturation?
2.6 The structure of County Lines networks
2.7 The involvement of young people
2.8 Local harms
2.9 The advancement of cuckooing
3. Policing drug markets
3.1 Pyramids and mirrors: the organisation of drugs policing
3.1.1 Operationalising drug market policing
3.1.2 Sweeping up
3.1.3 Cracking down
3.2 Harmful, ineffective and symbolic?
3.2.1 The effectiveness of crackdowns
3.2.2 Symbolic policing
3.3 The case for change: applying harm reduction principles to the policing of drug markets
3.3.1 Shaping drug markets by addressing externalities
3.3.2 A realistic approach?
3.3.3 The way forward?
4. Navigating a ‘newsy’ field4.1 Exploring the world of County Lines
4.2 Going backstage
4.3 Navigating my way through the field
4.4 Insider or outsider?
4.5 Ethical molehills
5. Policing a crisis?
5.1 Dealers ‘out of place’
5.2 Dirty business
5.3 The threat to young people
5.4 Violence as instrumental or expressive?
5.5 Partnerships and control signals
5.6 ‘Another pair of eyes and ears’5.7 Drug services as the difficult partner
5.8 Diverging from the norm?
6. New tactics
6.1 Put on hold: introducing the DDTRO
6.1.1 A blunt tool
6.1.2 The symbolism of the DDTRO
6.2 From pushers to enslavers
6.2.1 Practical barriers
6.2.2 The symbolism of Modern Slavery convictions6.3 Conclusion
7. More of the same?
7.1 Time to crackdown7.1.1 Crackdowns as weak signals of control
7.2 Days of action
7.2.1 Smoke gets in your eyes
7.2.2 Not so ‘hot’ spots
7.2.2 Welfare checks as double edged swords
8. Drug market priorities
8.1 Netting the ‘top boys: variance and the case of the ‘ideal’ line
8.1.1 A time for discretion?
8.1.2 The value neutral problem8.2 An organic shift to harm reduction policing
8.2.1 Prioritisation as harm reduction?
8.2.2 Mitigating the value neutral problem
8.2.3 External perceptions
8.2.4 Guiding crackdowns
8.3 Prioritisation in practice
8.3.1 Prioritisation in the fast paced world of County Lines
9.1 Impure market evolutions: the advancement of County Lines
9.2 The symbolic face of drug market policing9.3 Organic shifts towards harm reduction policing
9.4 ‘We can’t arrest our way out of this’: some concluding thoughts
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