More than a hundred people have been arrested across the Thames Valley and Hampshire following raids on "county lines" drug gangs.
It comes after Thames Valley Police and Hampshire Police carried out a week of action (13th-19th May) as part of a nationwide commitment to tackling drug dealing.
What is County Lines?
County lines drug dealing is the name given to drug dealing where organised criminal groups (OCGs) use phone lines to move organised and supply drugs, usually from cities into smaller towns and rural areas.
This type of drug dealing exploits children and vulnerable adults who may have mental health or addiction problems. Generally victims are exploited by organised crime groups to supply and run drugs through violence and intimidation.
Along with arrests, operations also resulted in the safeguarding of more than a hundred vulnerable people, including children.
THAMES VALLEY STATS
77 vulnerable people rescued (including 15 children)
£85,000 worth of drugs seized
28 vulnerable people rescued
£17,455 in cash seized
In Hampshire, warrants were carried out in Southampton, Portsmouth, Basingstoke, Aldershot, Andover and the Isle of Wight.
They seized more than £17,455 in cash, 39 phones, six knives, as well as carrying out prevention work with schools, hotels and taxis firms.
What is often overlooked when we talk about drug dealing networks is that there are genuine victims that get caught up in the county lines business. Hardened criminals who will deliberately target the most vulnerable and exploit them to carry out their illegal work. These are often young people and adults with mental health, addictions or unmanageable debt."
Both forces have also been working with schools with education visits supported by drugs dogs. These visits were to promote the welfare of students, safeguard them, and warn children and teachers of the signs and dangers of drugs and how children can be exploited into child drugs exploitation.
We would encourage the public to help us in the fight against serious and organised criminals by reporting any drug dealing of which they are aware. This will help us to build up intelligence and investigate those who see fit to deal drugs. Additionally we are asking communities to be aware of their neighbours, friends and young people they know for the signs them being exploited by drug dealers."