More than £5,000 worth of Class-A drugs and £7,000 in cash has been seized as a part of a week-long crackdown that also saw 60 people at risk of exploitation being protected - including three children.

Police officers from Cornwall and Devon have been working with the National Crime Agency and other organisations in the latest focus on county lines.

This term refers to a type of crime where drugs gangs exploit children and vulnerable adults to make them courier drugs and money across the country from the gang’s base in a large city to customers in towns across Devon and Cornwall.

The 'county line' refers to the mobile phone line which is the link for the gangs to sell drugs.

Last week, from September 14 to 20, saw extensive work by police officers and staff across the county to disrupt the work of organised drug gangs and safeguard vulnerable people.

During the week officers:

  • Arrested five people suspected to be involved in county lines.
  • Safeguarded 60 people who were at risk of, or actively being exploited by, a county line or other drugs group. This includes three children.
  • Identified at least two new county line groups operating in Devon and Cornwall.
  • Seized more than £5,000 worth of Class-A drugs and £7,000 in cash from county line suspects.
  • Carried out patrols in drug criminality hotspots to deter activity.
  • Conducted awareness campaigns, sharing posters and policing knowledge at local schools and transport hubs to support members of the public to ‘know the signs’ of county lines.
  • Engaged with partner organisations – including housing providers and youth services - to raise awareness of county lines and provide targeted support to individuals where needed.

Detective Superintendent Ed Wright said: “Across the force, we’ve seen impressive results from this latest intensification week tackling county lines exploitation and protecting vulnerable people.

"Although this has been a week of national focus, we are working to tackle county lines gangs all year round and prevent the harm they can do to both local communities and the vulnerable people they exploit.”

The crackdown also involved teams from the National Police Chiefs’ Council and was co-ordinated by the National County Lines Coordination Centre.

D/Supt Wright added: “We ran a comprehensive awareness raising campaign over the last month and asking members of the public, if they have concerns or information, to report 100 per cent anonymously to Crimestoppers.

"We are fortunate to live in one of the safest parts of the country and we want to work with all our communities to keep it that way.”

Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, congratulated all who took part in this operation, adding: "Their actions have taken dangerous drugs off our streets and sent a strong message that we will not tolerate drug dealing in our communities.”