A CRACKDOWN on drug-related crime and violence will be rolled out across the county following its success in Southam-pton.

Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Hayes has announced that the force will commit another £1.77million to Operation Fortress – meaning it will be extended Hampshire-wide.

Mr Hayes said that the project, which has seen more than 60 people convicted for drug-related offences, deserved the funding boost.

Launched in 2012 following an initial £2m investment, the two-year project has seen numerous large-scale co-ordinated raids around Southampton in a bid to disrupt the drug networks around the city, and in turn prevent violence associated with the dealing by organised gangs.

Operation Fortress – officers are pictured making arrests in Southampton – also works to strengthen links within communities to make it easier for the public to report drug-related crimes and improve the co-ordination of services that help to rehabilitate drug users.

It is this work that has now been secured for another year following the funding announcement by the PCC.

Mr Hayes said: “Analysis and research conducted by the Operation Fortress team has demonstrated that a buoyant drugs market leads to a significant increase in violence.

“Much of this has predominantly been linked to crime gangs operating out of the capital. It is therefore essential that we continue this targeted intelligence-led work to make the whole of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight a hostile place for those who ply their trade in illegal and mind-altering substances.”

Chief Constable Andy Marsh said: “Having the team in place for a further 12 months gives us flexibility to focus on embedding the successes of the campaign throughout the organisation while work is ongoing to restructure the force.”