A TEENAGE girl suspected to have been trafficked was brought home to Dorset by police during a week-long crackdown on the drugs gangs who bring misery to our county.

A man has been arrested after the girl was rescued by officers from Dorset Police, British Transport Police and South Wales Police.

The arrested man was held on suspicion of trafficking offences. He is continuing to help police with their enquiries.

Police arrested 27 people in total during the days between Monday, October 7 and Friday, October 11.

Some 14 people arrested are suspected of being "closely associated" with 'county lines' drug dealing in the county, police say.

A further 26 safeguarding checks were carried out at homes known to be vulnerable to gangs. Dealers are known to move into the homes of addicts and use the properties as bases in a practice known as 'cuckooing'.

Deputy director of intelligence, Chief Inspector Andrew Dilworth, said: “Safeguarding vulnerable people is one of our biggest priorities as an organisation.

“Alleged county lines gangs see rural areas as an easy target, thinking it is easier for them to move in to those areas and not be noticed. This week of coordinated law enforcement activity in Dorset was an intensification of our existing work to tackle suspected drug-related crime.

“While I’m extremely pleased with the work carried out this week, our efforts to stop county lines are ongoing.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “County lines is a growing problem, and one the police simply cannot tackle on their own.

"We need the support of everyone who cares about our communities, and that’s why we’re asking members of the public to be our eyes and ears and to contact the police if they see anything that doesn’t look right.

“The information they provide could help bring alleged gang members to justice and turn around the lives of those young people they are suspected to have coerced into working for them.”

County lines is the name given to suspected urban drug dealers expanding their activities into smaller towns and rural areas, using people, including teenagers from other parts of the country, to come to Dorset and supply drugs.

To report suspected signs of county lines involvement, contact police via dorset.police.uk/do-it-online, or by calling 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Dorset's crackdown in figures

  • £4,100-worth of class A drugs seized – although the figure is set to increase
  • £1,000-worth of cannabis seized
  • 27 arrests made
  • Three weapons found
  • £3,500 in cash seized
  • One man arrested for trafficking
  • 14 arrests in connection with 'county lines'
  • 26 'safe and well checks' made