Estimated 200 to 500kg of class A drugs comes through Luton every month as Bedfordshire PCC warns of thriving market locally

'Luton is now a net exporter of county lines to other parts of the country, rather than an importer'

By Euan Duncan
Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 2:14 pm
Updated Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 2:16 pm

Around 200 to 500 kilos of class A drugs come through Luton a month, according to estimates revealed to Bedfordshire's Police and Crime Commissioner.

Festus Akinbusoye described the town as "a net exporter of county lines" to other parts of the country, rather than an importer, while speaking to Luton borough councillors.

"I take very seriously this issue of county lines and the serious violence which goes along with it," he explained to a full council meeting yesterday (January 25).

A recent heroin seizure from a Luton property (Beds Police)

"One thing we cannot get away from is there's a thriving market for drug use in our county.

"That's an issue because by the time we start focusing on the stabbings and the violence I think we need to step further back and look at the main drivers of this criminal activity.

"While we want to deal with the enforcement we also have to deal with the demand side. The evidence shows more and more people are addicted to class A and class B drugs in some of our communities.

"In some of the rural and affluent middle class areas there are people buying drugs," he added. "It's not just the homeless or rough sleepers as people tend to think. So we're putting money into the treatment side."

Beds PCC Festus Akinbusoye

What's your experience of drug issues in Luton? Email [email protected].

Labour Lewsey councillor Aslam Khan referred to the importance of "having that early intelligence", saying: "Everything going through Luton is linked to other parts of the country, such as London, and a lot of Londoners are coming into the town and have chosen here as a base.

"How do we protect Luton from external forces using Luton soil?" he asked.

"When you have these gangsters fighting on the street and outside our schools, why are we doing all that hard work when all that effort goes to waste some times, which is when enforcement becomes a critical issue?"

The PCC replied: "I wish I could say it was a case of London moving up to Luton. The fact is there are people who were born and bred in Luton deep in the game.

"Let's not delude ourselves in thinking that people from London are coming to Luton or vice versa.

"Luton is now a net exporter of county lines to other parts of the country, rather than an importer.

"But that's not to say there aren't many wonderful things going on. I know some of the schemes which the local authority is putting in place.

"I know of fantastic things which the violence and exploitation reduction unit (VERU) is doing, that Bedfordshire Police does, which the churches, the mosques and several faith groups are doing to keep people off the streets and to eradicate poverty.

"The scale of the problem is enormous. It's going to take all of us, the NHS, schools, the police, local authorities everyone working together in a coordinated way to tackle this issue. But I believe we can."

The PCC was introduced to borough councillors in July and agreed to return for a question and answer session.

"The enforcement part is also quite interesting," he said. "You see some of the drug dealing and gangs. What you don't get to see is the top level and the middle level gang leaders being taken down.

"There are several of these county lines taken down in Bedfordshire. I've heard estimates of about 200 to 500 kilos of class A drugs coming through Luton a month.

"That's not just there to satisfy the local market. It's also to send around the main county lines. That's a big issue."