Basingstoke police investigating the scourge of county lines have revealed they have dramatically reduced the supply of heroin and cocaine.

In the last six months, the dedicated team have arrested 52 people, seized five cars, taken 83 burner phones and seized £7,000 linked to drug dealing.

Officers have also seized Class A drugs worth £9,900 off the streets and safeguarded 15 children and 12 adults from County Lines drug dealers.

A spokesman for Basingstoke cops said: "You may not always see the team working as they wear both uniform and plain clothes. However, they are out in the community.

"As well as carrying out search warrants at addresses suspected to be used for drug dealing and taking, they also investigate reports of suspected cannabis factories."

Basingstoke Gazette: Green Lamborghini seized by Basingstoke police last month in a County Lines probeGreen Lamborghini seized by Basingstoke police last month in a County Lines probe

 They added their police's goal is to safeguard vulnerable people who are risk of being exploied.

Gang members are known to take over addresses to use for storing drugs and weapons, and to deal to users in a practice known as ‘cuckooing’.

Last summer, a Gazette investigation found the homes of a number of vulnerable people in the town were being used by dealers as a "base" for their illegal activities.

In one startling case, this newspaper reported how a drug dealer used a child as a "human shield" to avoid being Tasered

Hampshire is the second-most targeted county in the country, for county lines. Basingstoke, in particular, is said to be targeted due to its travel links to London and the south. 

Basingstoke's dedicated drugs team works with Basingstoke & Deane Council, to serve closure orders on addresses that are responsible for anti social behaviour and criminality due to drug dealing or taking.

Sergeant Christian Lavin said: “It’s a powerful tactic to have a team like ours which is solely focused on drug related harm.

Read more: Drug dealer used child as 'human shield' to avoid being Tasered

“I want thank the team, the community, and our partners for the assistance and sheer hard work provided over the last six months.

"In partnership we collate intelligence that helps us take action against those who are causing the most harm across the district and affecting the lives of law abiding citizens.

“We couldn’t do this without the community’s help. We can’t be everywhere all the time so we rely on the community to report suspicious activity.”

Read more: Hampshire second-most targeted county for County Lines

Here’s what to look out for:

• Lots of people you don’t recognise coming and going from a property 
• The occupant acting in a distracted or anxious manner 
• Seeing drugs paraphernalia 
• More taxis and cars than usual 
• People turning up at all hours of the day and night

To report anything suspicious, call 101 or 999. If you don’t want to give your name, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Last month, a flashy green Lamborghini was seized during a raid while five men were arrested. 

Chief Inspector Mark Lynch from Hampshire Constabulary said at time time: “The threat from county lines drug dealing continues to present a significant risk to vulnerable children and adults living within Hampshire, despite the current Covid-19 restrictions the country finds itself in.

“Please be reassured that despite the operational challenges the pandemic poses to us and other front line emergency services, tackling organised crime in all its various guises remains our core focus and operations to disrupt criminals who attempt to profit from drug dealing will continue. Not only will we prosecute those found responsible to the full extent of the law, but we will also seek to maximise every opportunity to strip them of their illicit gains.

“The sad reality is that vulnerable young people are often targeted, coerced with either threats or false promises of cash and designer possessions, when in reality those criminals regard those children as nothing more than a disposable asset, to be used and abused until they have no longer have any need for them. The added dimension of Covid-19 just presents yet another serious health risk to those youths and those that they associate with.

“By working effectively with the wider Hampshire & Isle of Wight partnerships, we seek not only to help those in need at this time, but also to stop and deter other children in the future becoming entangled in this emotive and horrific area of modern day criminality.”

  • Have you been affected? Talk to a repoerter in confidence. Email or call 01256 337409.