A team of experts have been brought together in a bid to tackle the ‘scourge’ of county lines in Dorset.
County lines – in which gangs from large cities use dedicated phone lines to supply drugs to smaller towns – has become a national issue affecting forces including Dorset Police.
On Wednesday, the latest Problem Solving Forum of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) was hosted and held in Wimborne Minster.
The participants in the forum included experts involved in housing and transport, child protection and adult safeguarding, Supt Caroline Naughton from Dorset Police, Claire Dzuda from the Aster Housing Association, and DI Brittany Clarke from the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre.
These experts came together to discuss new approaches to tackling county lines drug dealing and criminal exploitation in Dorset.
They also took part in workshops to identify what each organisation could do differently and proposals will be taken forward through partnership working with relevant organisations.
The targets for these gangs are vulnerable people of various ages who may be battling addiction or suffering from poor mental health.
Many of them become drug pushers as a result of being threatened with violence against them or their families.
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill, said that despite all the Dorset Police had done, the county lines issue was “larger than the police” and required a response from a wide range of organisations.
A survivor of county lines exploitation from the St Giles Trust also spoke about their own experience of being used by drugs gangs.