POLICE officers are cracking down on drug trafficking and exploitation of young people, to disrupt gangs and protect the vulnerable members of the community.

This week Wiltshire Police will be focusing on the threat posed by county lines drugs gangs through visiting residents across the county and teaching safeguarding strategies.

Early intervention teams, supported by police community support officers, will also be delivering presentations to schools and colleges, to raise awareness of criminal exploitation.

Detective Inspector Paul Franklin said: “Here in Wiltshire we are committed to tackling county lines drugs gangs and protecting those at risk of being exploited by these gangs.

"It is important to stress that day in, day out, we are seeing good results from our teams who are constantly cracking down on these gangs, leading to a greater number of arrests and convictions, as well as the seizure of drugs and weapons from our streets.”

This work will coincide with the national roll out of the #LookCloser campaign by the Children’s Society, in partnership with the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre and British Transport Police.

This week of activity also falls under Project Optimise – the force’s approach to serious and organised crime.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, Angus Macpherson, said: “We know that the public have real concerns about the impact of county lines drugs gangs in their communities, however, they should feel reassured by the ongoing efforts by officers and staff across the force in tackling this type of organised criminality.

“I am pleased to hear that a lot of work on this subject is being planned with our young people – specifically those aged 15 to 18 who are most at risk of being exploited by drugs gangs - to help raise awareness of the signs to look out for and how they can safeguard themselves and others.

"This is a really important age group for us to engage with and I am confident that the work planned this week will have a positive impact on these individuals.”

  • Wiltshire Police has issued a list of signs that could be linked to the exploitation of a young person:

- Increased mobile phone activity

- Unexplained injuries

- Change in mood

- Gang associations

- New expensive possessions they cannot account for

- Missing from home

- Increase in anti social behaviour

- Decline in school grades