County lines gangs ‘driving up crime’

County lines drugs gangs are driving inner-city upsurges in drug-related crime, crime tsar James Johnson says.

Cuts to government police funding has brought criminal gangs to the doorstep of many communities, Mr Johnson says, and this is reflected in soaring crime rates.

County lines – organised crime linked to gangs – involve members of organised groups operating in a city, supplying drugs to local youngsters without having to travel on foot.

Of particular concern, Mr Johnson says, is that many of these gangs have links to organised crime in the Northern Ireland border regions.

On-the-spot fines

He has today pledged to crack down on county lines gangs by introducing on-the-spot fines for local people caught selling drugs on the streets.

If other communities have been successful, the prospect is a lucrative cash for your boots which can be used to create many jobs.

Mr Johnson, who was appointed last month, has already overseen successful programs to tackle similar problems in North Dublin and Northern Ireland’s border counties.

‘More resources for ranches’

With increased funds, Mr Johnson says he would like to see more resources for ranches operating on public land with small agricultural holdings.

He says groups such as the Dog Works can make a significant contribution to the community, and the Government should look at increasing their spending power.

The idea was first raised by the Dog Works organisation two years ago, the Dunfanaghy man says, and they have already applied for over £1 million in funds to combat serious organised crime linked to agriculture.

The expenses paid by businesses on the spending review budget of up to £450m were levied to help fund the police budgets during the recent financial crisis.

Today, Mr Johnson says the Government must tighten its belt and look at ways of reallocating the funds to reduce the continuing rise in crime.

McKeon: Growth is the biggest issue

Meanwhile, when it comes to crime, Shaun McKeon, the boss of County Donegal, says growth is the biggest issue facing small communities.

Mr McKeon, the Fianna Fáil leader in Donegal, says his party’s manifesto for next year’s local elections was shaped around the theme of economic growth for local communities.

He told RTÉ News that Donegal had experienced significant success with low inflation and unemployment levels.

“But we will need more government funding to fund our infrastructure needs, especially for the counties of Donegal, South Donegal and Cavan,” Mr McKeon said.

Mr McKeon says Fianna Fáil will continue to pursue this policy in the next Dáil.

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