NINE arrests were made by Dorset Police as part of the latest County Lines operation targeting the illegal drugs trade.

County Lines refers to a type of crime where organised drugs gangs exploit children and vulnerable adults, by making them courier narcotics across the country from the larger urban centres.

Much of the drug dealing on the streets in Dorset may well be coordinated from larger cities such as London.

During the latest crackdown nine people were arrested in Dorset, £4,325 was seized, phones used by the drug dealers were confiscated, and quantities of suspected crack and heroin were also seized.

The week-long operation, called an 'intensification week', was run by the National Crime Agency and the National Police Chief's Council, coordinated by the National County Lines Coordination Centre.

In Dorset a Jaguar car was also seized by officers, a flick knife confiscated, more than 20 'safe and well' checks were made, one vulnerable man was safeguarded and two referrals were made to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), the process for reporting suspected modern slavery offences.

Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Dilworth said: “County lines gangs make vulnerable people – including children – work for them to sell drugs.

"These people can face violence and intimidation from gang members. By disrupting their activity, and making operating in Dorset difficult for these criminals, we can protect the most vulnerable members of our society from being exploited and the wider communities from drugs and gangs. These results show that we will not tolerate gangs bringing crime and disruption to Dorset.”

Meanwhile, Martyn Underhill, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset, said: “Once again, Dorset Police has shown that their approach to disrupting county lines gangs is working. I would like to praise all the officers and staff involved in such an impressive set of results and I am particularly pleased to see so many arrests being made.

“The results demonstrate that, Dorset Police are tough on those who are involved in county lines and I fully support the proactive approach that has been taken in dealing with gang-related criminal activity in Dorset.

“County lines is a serious problem and the police also need support from the community in order to tackle it.

"By learning to spot the signs and reporting any suspicions to the police, the public can help protect victims of exploitation and I would encourage everyone to find out more about county lines to help keep the most vulnerable in our community safe.”

The intensification week took place from September 14-20.

DCI Dilworth said: “It is important to point out that Dorset remains one of the safest places in the country to live and work and we are working hard to keep it that way.

“On top of these great results we also did a lot of work speaking with people and raising awareness of the signs of county lines and asking people to report to us if they have concerns.

"We have a wealth of information on our website and, although the intensification week is over, we ask the public to remain vigilant at all times and report any concerns they have to us using our non-emergency channels or, 100 per cent anonymously, to Crimestoppers.”