IMPORTED crime from London and Merseyside gangs is a particular problem in Dorset, says the force’s new chief constable.

Speaking to the Daily Echo at the end of his first week in his new role, Chief Constable James Vaughan said imported crime is a particular problem for regional forces.

“There are gangs from London and Merseyside in particular that send drug dealers here to peddle drugs and violence on our streets.”

He said efforts to tackle the issue including the use of stop search was audited by HMIC during an inspection.

But the power is rarely used at random and most of the time is intelligence led, he added.

He said more than 90 per cent of the stops were based on intelligence information.

“We work closely with communities across Dorset and in particular in areas like Boscombe where people from the community want us to take action against this type of crime.

“What I’m told by these communities is they don’t want these gangs giving them a bad name.”

He cited the murder of Reece James in Roumelia Lane, Boscombe in 2012 as an example of London violence spilling into Dorset, but said incidences like this were so rare, the community response was unprecedented.

“We have very, very low tolerance for violence at this level”, he added.

A spike in knife crime last year had since returned to ‘normal’ levels.

Mr Vaughan also said statistics from Dorset Police Federation on numbers of visible police officers did not reflect the whole situation.

“In 2007 we had 1,463 officers, ten years later in 2017, we have 1,209. We have lost around 250 officers in the past 10 years.

“We of course recognise that the public want to see visible policing, they feel reassured by that.

“We have been protecting neighbourhood policing resources and the impact of cuts has been less on visible resources.

“Despite all of the cuts and restructure we are still a really good police force and trusted by the public, who have high levels of confidence in us.

“It is a testament to our men and women who work for us.

“We will always have ambitions to be better and invest in our staff.”

In a wide-ranging interview with the Daily Echo last week, Mr Vaughan spoke candidly about the strain officers are under and how he aims to tackle it.

He said the well-being of under-pressure officers was one of his top priorities.

Investment is needed to counteract the rising strain on frontline policing, he told the Echo.

He said when meeting officers, they tell him how they are struggling to manage the workload.

The complexity of offences such as sexual offences, modern slavery and child sexual exploitation and the rise in cyber crime also presented additional challenges.