100 people have been arrested and drugs have been seized in a county lines 'week of action' by Thames Valley Police.
Between 7 October and 13 October 2019, officers across the region have been carrying out activity to target individuals concerned in county lines drugs, as a result officers made 100 arrests for drugs supply and other associated offences.
Additionally £65,983 in cash was recovered and officers also seized 1,435 wraps of cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin worth over £17,000 pounds in cash.
17 weapons were also seized along with 118 mobile phones, with 166 stop and searches and 35 vehicle stop checks carried out.
Thames Valley officers identified 19 vulnerable people and worked with partners across the three counties to safeguard them and attended 100 addresses where ‘cuckooing’ has previously taken place.
Cuckooing is where drug dealers often entice a vulnerable person into allowing their home to be used for drug dealing by giving them free drugs or offering to pay for food or utilities.
The people they target are often lonely, isolated, or frequent drug users themselves.
The force also carried 111 educational visits to schools, taxi firms, landlords and hotels to advise them on spotting the signs of county lines drug dealing and exploitation.
This week was a continuation of the force's Stronghold campaign which aims to work in partnership to tackle serious and organised crime and exploitation in partnership. The week was also part of a national week of action run by the National Crime Agency.
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.
The force says that this type of drug dealing exploits children and vulnerable adults who may have mental health or addiction problems, and that generally these people are exploited by OCGs to supply and run drugs through violence and intimidation. They say it's a very harmful criminal business model which effects many in the Thames Valley.
Nationally organised crime is estimated to cost the UK economy over 37 billion pounds a year and has a significant impact on communities in the Thames Valley.
Detective Chief Superintendent Richard List, said: “Thames Valley Police remains fully committed to tackling ‘County Lines’ and the significant harm that they cause both in the Thames Valley and more widely. This intensification week is good evidence of this robust commitment to protect the public and bring offenders to justice.
“We will be relentless in our pursuit of those who are involved in this activity and who regularly use violence and intimidation to target young and vulnerable people in our communities.
“In this week of action we have seen significant seizures of drugs, cash, mobile phones and weapons, but we have also worked closely with our partners to identify people at risk of being exploited by ‘County Lines’ drug dealers and safeguarded them.
“Education forms a vital part of our ongoing work to tackle serious and organised crime and I am pleased that our officers have been engaging with schools, taxi drivers, landlords and hotel owners in order to provide them with information on spotting the signs of exploitation.
It is only by working together – with parents, with carers, with Schools and other agencies that we will deal effectively with this challenge. County Lines is one of the most significant social problems of our time – it needs to be a priority for us all.
“Our actions continue to send the message that we will not tolerate ‘County Lines’ drug dealing in our communities and we will continue to work with our partners to reduce the risk of young and vulnerable becoming a victim of exploitation.”