Dorset Police has launched a new crackdown aimed at crushing county lines drug gangs operating in the county.  

Operation Viper will see a dedicated team of police using intelligence and enforcement to rid Dorset of the scourge of county lines and make the region a hostile place for those dealing drugs and bringing misery on communities.  

The bedrock of Operation Viper will see the newly created Neighbourhood Enforcement Teams (NET), working closely with existing Neighbourhood Policing Teams to provide visibility, proactive enforcement and community engagement as well as a dedicated County Lines Task Force to disrupt incoming drug networks.  

It will also feed into the regional intelligence picture to prevent harm and drugs coming into the county from other cities around the country. There has already been significant disruption to these gangs across the county.

During its first six weeks the NET’s have already seen success with 27 disruption notices issued to those dealing drugs, 10 children identified as being exploited by county lines gangs safeguarded, 29 arrests as a direct result of proactive action and seven warrants executed, this is just in Bournemouth alone.  

This has led to drugs with a street value of almost £100,00 being seized along with two vehicles related to criminality and significant intelligence gathered to inform further enforcement action in the coming days and weeks across the county.  

Dorset Police Chief Constable Scott Chilton said: “Operation Viper is about investing in a new approach to tackling organised drug supply in our county, taking out those criminals bringing misery to our communities and protecting vulnerable people being exploited by county lines drug gangs.  

“We now have additional dedicated proactive resources to tackle the issues that county lines brings to communities including the exploitation of young people, violence and anti-social behaviour as well stopping the importation of Class A drugs into Dorset.  

“The Neighbourhood Enforcement Teams, working with a proactive County Lines Task Force, is a two-pronged attack on those bringing drugs into our neighbourhoods and causing immeasurable harm. Our County Lines Task Force will target organised crime groups through developing intelligence and covert operations.   

“I cannot be clearer on my message to those involved in county lines dealing and selling Class A drugs in Dorset. We will pursue you and you will be caught and dealt with. The public of Dorset, quite rightly, expect us to be relentless in our approach to tackling these gangs. With a clear determined approach, that is what we are doing.”  

County lines sees drugs being brought into often rural communities by gangs operating from areas such as London, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester.  

It sees criminals from urban areas come into counties like Dorset, often using young and vulnerable children to carry and sell drugs, while ‘cuckooing’ the home of those using drugs locally – effectively taking over their homes to act as temporary bases to sell drugs from.  

Chief Constable Chilton added: “Working with our Neighbourhood Policing Teams who already have excellent links into our communities and partners we will gather intelligence, identify where we need to take action and then strike against criminality.  

“We will then work with partners to repair the damage already inflicted by this activity and prevent further lines reaching Dorset.”  

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner David Sidwick has already committed to investing in Operation Viper as part of his Police and Crime Plan for Dorset.  

Mr Sidwick said: “Hot on the heels of Operation Scorpion – where we saw all five forces across the south west working together to tackle county lines drugs gangs, Dorset now has its own dedicated and proactive Operation Viper which will target those who come to our county to deal drugs.   

“I am delighted to see the priorities of my Police and Crime Plan ‘in action’ in the shape of the new Neighbourhood Enforcement Team’s and I applaud the quick successes that they have already had – the statistics speak for themselves – significant amounts of illegal drugs seized, vehicles seized, 29 arrests made, 10 children protected – this is exactly the type of action that I and the residents of Dorset want to see from our police force.”  

Mr Sidwick added: “Both the Chief Constable and I share the same tough stance on drugs and now Operation Viper is ready, willing and able to crush county lines, drive out drugs gangs and make Dorset a safer place to be.”   

An Operation Viper raid in Boscombe on Thursday, April 21, saw four people arrested for possession with intent to supply drugs as well as the seizure of drugs and cash.

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