More than 80 people arrested in county lines crackdown in the Thames Valley

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Cary Johnston

Eighty one people have been arrested by Thames Valley Police as part of a region-wide operation against county lines drug gangs. 

Properties were raided, and thousands of pounds worth of cash and drug-making material was seized.

The week-long operation (17-23 May) saw officers from the Thames Valley carrying out warrants, making arrests and other activity to disrupt County Lines drug dealers.

Thames Valley Police county lines crackdown. Credit: Thames Valley Police

As a result, officers did the following:

  • make 81 arrests

  • execute 17 warrants

  • conduct 129 searches

  • seize 626 wraps of heroin, cocaine and cannabis

  • seize more than £42,000 in cash

  • seize 85 phones

  • identify 29 vulnerable people

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 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, these people are exploited to supply and run drugs, and are often forced into this activity through intimidation and violence.

What is Cuckooing?

Cuckooing is where gangs target the address of a vulnerable adult, taking over the property that the adult is living in and forcing them to sell drugs out of their home.

Drugs seized in county lines police operations. Credit: Thames Valley Police

Detective Chief Superintendent Richard List said: "It is important for us all to be familiar with the signs that someone might be the victim of drugs exploitation as only with the public’s help can we stop this.

“If you think someone shows sign of mistreatment, or a child seems to travelling long distances or is unfamiliar with the area they are in, then you can report your suspicions to Thames Valley Police on 101 or via our website."

Operations have been happening all across the region, with 17 vulnerable children being protected in Hampshire.

And in Dorset, 14 arrests were made and more than £7,000 in cash was seized from suspected dealers.

Sgt Andy Jenkins from Dorset Police said: "One main factor of our success is developing our community intelligence.

"So that's speaking to not only our key partners such as social services, housing and local authorities, but also speaking to those perhaps within the drug-user community but also those who may live nearby that may witness or notice things that are out of the ordinary."