Over 80 arrests made by police force that covers Milton Keynes tackling drug offences

A week of action saw the police use a series of schemes to tackle organised drug dealing.

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 1:18 pm

Thames Valley Police completed a week of action using search warrants to make a series of arrests tackling organised drug dealing.

Last week between May 17 to May 23, 81 arrests were made in the Thames Valley and £42,047 were seized during raids.

Police officers also attempted to assist vulnerable people exploited by organised offenders within the drugs trade. The police identified 29 people they considered vulnerable, and engaged with 95 people already identified as endangered by organised crime.

81 drug related arrests were made in the Thames Valley

This project has been quickly followed up by a series of raids made under the operation stronghold project ran by Thames Valley Police. Search warrants were authorised allowing officers to storm premises all over the Thames Valley, including Milton Keynes, early yesterday morning.Eight people have been charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs, including a Milton Keynes resident, around 3kg of class A drugs, approximately £60,000 in cash and a stun gun were seized as well.

Last week's project was combating a specific type of organised drug crime. County Lines drug dealing, was the specific focus of last week's raids and arrests.

Thames Valley Police investigators believe that through conversations with local authorities, homeless charities and schools, smaller towns and rural areas are vulnerable to a specific type of organised drugs movement.

County Lines drug dealing, is the name given when organised criminal groups (OCGs) use phone lines to move and supply illegal substances, usually from cities into smaller towns and rural areas.

Police believe this type of drug movement often involves exploiting children and vulnerable adults who may have mental health or addiction problems.

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

Figures from the police suggest that organised crime costs the UK economy over 37 billion pounds a year.

Alongside the 81 arrests, 17 warrants were authorised, 129 searches were carried out, and officers took over 626 wraps of cocaine, heroin and cannabis off the streets of the Thames Valley.

Additionally officers seized 85 phones linked to County Line drug dealing.

Officers also completed 103 school visits, to help children recognise the signs of grooming.

Another priority on the week of action was combating and preventing what the police have termed as, 'cuckooing'. Police use the term when criminal groups target the address of a vulnerable adult, taking over the property that the person is living in and forcing them to sell drugs out of their home.

Officers intervened at 136 addresses where known 'cuckooing' has taken place.

Detective Chief Superintendent Richard List said: “This has been a hugely successful week for Thames Valley Police working with the National Crime Agency to tackle County Lines drug dealing.

“Thames Valley Police sees tackling OCGs and county lines as an absolute priority and we are determined to continue to work closely with our partners including Local Authorities, Schools, Health Professionals and charities, to safeguard children and vulnerable adults.

“I see the fact that we have safeguarded a number of adults and children from being exploited through violence, fear and intimidation by drug dealers this week as a real success.

“We will continue to act every single day to stop those who seek to damage our communities through this extremely harmful criminal activity.

“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 be 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.

“Engagement with the public is vital as well and we will continue to work together with our communities and partners so that we can protect vulnerable people, bring offenders to justice and make the Thames Valley a safer place.”