DRUGS AND knives have been seized as part of a crackdown on County Lines drug dealers working in Southampton.

Class A and B drugs were seized during 21 searches done at Southampton Train Station yesterday afternoon.

Police Dog Ted helped during the five-hour operation to stop and disrupt organised crime coming through the city.

Daily Echo:

British Transport Police seized a large knife meanwhile a 44-year-old man was arrested for failing to appear at court to face charges of stalking and harassment, dangerous driving and drugs offences.

Inspector Clive Marsh, said: “Southampton is a busy city, and is a safe place in which to live, work and visit - but like most towns and cities up and down the country, we have experienced issues with county lines drugs networks and associated activity such as knife crime and violent assaults.

“Southampton has good transport links with the M3/M27 motorways and a train line into London and the Midlands so it is an attractive place for criminals who are trying to move drugs around. But we work alongside our partners like British Transport Police in regular operations such as this – to robustly target criminals and prevent them from using our excellent network.

Daily Echo:

“Often, drug dealers will take advantage of and exploit vulnerable housing tenants, taking over their home and using it as a base for their criminal operation. This is known as ‘cuckooing’. Not only do these gangs exploit vulnerable people, but they also target children and recruit them into their criminal network.

“We work alongside our partners to issue closure orders on properties that are causing issues of criminality and anti-social behaviour in the community – and to safeguard those vulnerable people.”

“The Government pledged a specific drug-related harm fund to help us tackle this problem - and this is happening right now in Hampshire.

“We continue to work extremely hard, alongside our partners, to bring criminals to justice and support those vulnerable people who are exploited by criminals.”

Detective Superintendent Gareth Williams, the lead of the BTP County Lines Taskforce, said: “Our Taskforce operates nationally, targeting County Lines gangs at every opportunity and carrying out operations almost daily. I’d like to thank Hampshire Police for their support during this operation at Basingstoke Southampton station.

Daily Echo:

“Our role is to make the railway increasingly hostile to gangs who use them to transport drugs – this has been very successful with hundreds of arrests and many seizures of drugs and weapons since the start of the year.

“Sadly, these gangs exploit or intimidate vulnerable children into carrying drugs or cash on the railway, often putting them at great risk. We use every operation as an opportunity to identify exploited children and make every effort to offer to safeguard and pull them away from crime.

“We’re working alongside The Children’s Society to encourage everyone to Look Closer for any signs of child exploitation and report them to the police. Key indicators include a teenager travelling long distances, along with a large amount of cash, or avoiding any sort of authority at stations. These indicators are small but invaluable and help inform where we target next.”

Anyone who has any concerns is urged to call the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.