From West Mercia Police:

A two week period during February saw regional intensification with heightened work. Criminal activity was targeted as part of the Force’s overarching Protect campaign. This campaign seeks to tackle organised crime and disrupt those causing the most harm in our communities.

During the intensification period heroin, crack cocaine, cocaine and cannabis were seized by Police across Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire.

Over £35,000 in cash was seized, along with 20 mobile phones and weapons;  these included knives and an imitation hand gun.

Officers visited ‘cuckooed’ homes believed to be being exploited by drug dealers. They identified and safeguarded vulnerable people at risk of being exploited. Officers also engaged in education activity with fast food outlets, care homes, schools, local authorities, petrol stations and travel hubs across the counties.

Chief Superintendent Damian Barratt said: “West Mercia Police is no different to any other Police Force across the country where county lines drug dealers are exploiting vulnerable children, young people and adults.

“Organised crime groups are targeting our local communities and exploiting vulnerable people to transport drugs into our counties. In a practice known as cuckoo-ing, offenders often seek to take over the homes of vulnerable people to further facilitate drug dealing.

“These groups are often involved in serious violence and do not think twice about putting young and vulnerable people in frightening situations, causing them to make decisions that can ultimately change their lives and the lives of others forever. We are determined to do all we can to stop this from happening.

“We’re committed to tackling serious and organised crime as part of our ‘Protect’ campaign. Despite the Covid19 lockdown restrictions this criminality continues and no matter what the circumstances, our officers are here 24/7 365 days a year to protect people from harm.”

To report concerns about County Lines visit the Tell Us About section of . Alternatively information can be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Crimestoppers is independent of police and completely confidential.