Aimed at preventing drug misuse the legal restrictions are placed on the use of controlled drugs. In the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (“the Act”) the principal offences relating to the misuse of controlled drugs are contained and most of the illegal activities dealt with in this regulation are created by the Act. Elsewhere in the Legal Guidance there is separate guidance available on inchoate offences. The control of the use and distribution of dangerous and harmful drugs is the primary objective of the Act. The drugs are classified in the Act according to their comparative degree of in general harm from misuse.
The exploitation of vulnerable young people and adults by violent gang members in order to move and sell drugs across the country is what is known as ‘County Lines’ and which has become a national issue. City-based organized crime gangs are now extending their drug dealing activity into new areas, many of which are coastal towns. The National Crime Agency has identified the growing evidence of such activities. The gangs recruit often children who are more vulnerable, to act as couriers and to sell drugs.
The Modern Slavery Act 2015 may provide opportunities to consider the situations of ‘County Line’ offending, particularly where there has been deliberate recruitment, targeting, and major abuse of young and vulnerable people. However, the prosecutors should be alert to the challenge of securing a conviction for a Modern Slavery Act offence.