PEOPLE are being urged to report suspicious behaviour as part of a police crackdown on county lines drug gangs in the south west.
The regional campaign – Operation Scorpion – aims to disrupt drug-related crime and involved police in Wiltshire, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, Gloucestershire and Avon and Somerset.
Alongside targeting increased disruption, this iteration will also ensure young people – and their families – are being warned about the dangers of exploitation and how to spot the signs.
Regional policing lead for this phase of the operation, Wiltshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Deb Smith, said: “Intelligence from our communities will be fundamental to this operation being a success as it allows us to target specific locations where people are telling us they have concerns of illegal drug activity taking place.
“We need to know where this criminality is happening so that we can build an intelligence-rich picture which allows us to take decisive, enforcement activity.
“It is crucial that our communities know what signs to spot and how they can report their concerns to us and other agencies.
“We know that drug dealing is something which causes great harm to our communities across the south west and these drugs dealers have no thought or regard to the misery they are creating.
“These illegal enterprises bring with them violence, intimidation, exploitation and anti-social behaviour, and I hope that operations like Scorpion, show the public that it will not be tolerated.
“Although this is the sort of enforcement work which is ongoing 52 weeks a year, this operation sees a combination of resources with other agencies and organisations, to carry out focused and targeted work, both through enforcement and education, to make a real difference.
“Our message is clear – the south west is no place for drugs.”
Spotting the signs of County Lines activity in your community:
An increase in visitors and cars to a house or flat
New faces appearing at the house or flat
New and regularly changing residents (e.g different accents compared to local accent)
Change in resident’s mood and/or demeanour (e.g. secretive/ withdrawn/ aggressive/ emotional)
Substance misuse and/or drug paraphernalia
Changes in the way young people you might know dress
Unexplained, sometimes unaffordable new things (e.g clothes, jewellery, cars etc)
Residents or young people you know going missing, maybe for long periods of time
Young people seen in different cars/taxis driven by unknown adults
Young people seeming unfamiliar with your community or where they are
Truancy, exclusion, disengagement from school
An increase in anti-social behaviour in the community
Anyone with information about drug dealing or suspicious activity in the community should report it online, on 101, or via Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.