Major police operation targets criminal gangs in Hampshire

Anon police officer
Credit: ITV Meridian

A major police operation targeting criminal gangs in Hampshire, has led to 17 vulnerable children being protected.

Properties in Southampton, Portsmouth, Basingstoke and the New Forest were raided by officers who seized drugs and weapons.

The coordinated week of action was led by Hampshire's constabulary, to prevent drug dealing and the exploitation of vulnerable people.

Credit: ITV Meridian

The children will be given support to help them to stop working with the gangs who groomed them.

Officers also spoke to 38 adults who are considered vulnerable and potentially at risk of being exploited by dealers.

Police say children, in any community, can be vulnerable to manipulation, with many of them not seeing themselves as victims.

Hampshire constabulary is asking local agencies, charities, schools and parents to look out for signs of exploitation.

Police seized £4,140 worth of heroin, £50,000 worth of cannabis, 10 weapons and 38 mobile phones.

During the operation, 10 organised crime networks were disrupted and 26 men, three boys and four women were arrested.

Hampshire Constabulary's, Detective Superintendent, Nick Plummer, said: "County Lines and local drug networks cause misery for vulnerable young people and our communities and it is absolutely right that we continue putting significant effort into identifying those involved in supply and exploitation for their own gain.

"There is this strong link between drugs and violence, and we have made significant efforts to understand the impact of those involved in County Lines and other crime that spills into our neighbourhoods."