Close to 50 people have been arrested, weapons seized and suspected Class A drugs recovered as part of a major operation to tackle County Lines offenders.
Between March 7 and March 13 Lancashire Police joined forces with police across the country as part of County Lines Intensification Week.
County Lines is the movement of illegal drugs from one area to another, usually by children or vulnerable people, who are coerced into criminal activity by gangs.
Activity in Lancashire included the execution of warrants, safeguarding of and visits to vulnerable people, as well as education visits to schoolchildren.
Det Supt Becky Smith, force lead for County Lines at Lancashire Police, said:
“The week’s activity was in conjunction with the national effort to target and disrupt those involved in organised crime.
“We are working harder than ever to crack down on County Lines criminals who bring drug dealing and violence into our communities.
“County Lines gangs and organised criminal networks export illegal drugs, using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of ‘deal line’.
“Their activity is associated with violence, drug dealing and the exploitation of children and vulnerable people, to move drugs and money. They will also seek to establish a base in target locations, typically taking over the homes of local vulnerable adults by force or coercion.”
Part of Lancashire Police’s activity included educating people on how gangs will criminally exploit children and adults.
Officers visited schools, giving advice on the signs to look for if a young or vulnerable person is being exploited or there is a change in their circumstances.
These changes include children having more clothes, mobile phones, or cash than normal, increased truancy, exclusion or frequently going missing.
Further visits were made to care homes, bus stations and train stations to raise awareness around County Lines, delivering messages and leaflets.
Officers also visited addresses concerned in cuckooing, where gangs take over a person's home and use the property to exploit the person who lives there, selling, making, or hiding drugs.
The visits were supported by partners, including local councils, with authorities able to use civil orders to deter people from frequenting vulnerable adults’ addresses.
During the week of action:
Forty-eight people were arrested, including 41 adults and seven youths.
Close to £12,000, nine weapons and 32 phones were seized.
Sixty-six wraps of suspected Class A drugs were recovered.
Fifteen addresses, suspected of involvement in cuckooing, were visited.
Police identified or engaged with 73 vulnerable people, including 38 adults and 35 youths.
Det Supt Smith added: “Shutting down County Lines would not be possible without the support of partners as tackling County Lines is in equal parts about safeguarding victims, shutting down the line and targeting line holders
“We know the significant impact County Lines drug activity has upon our communities and our message is clear: There is no place to hide if you choose to take part in County Lines drug activity and by doing so exploit vulnerable people.”
If you believe that someone maybe involved in County Line or other drugs activity, tell the police by calling 101 or call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or report your concerns anonymously online at crimestoppers-uk.org
If you think someone is in immediate danger, call 999.
For more information and details of the support agencies in Lancashire, please visit www.eyes-open.co.uk