THE crime phenomenon known as County Lines - drug dealers from big cities such as London and Manchester setting up supply chains in small towns – has been hitting the headlines recently.

Not only has the issue attracted national attention, but there has been a strong local focus on the problems here in Wiltshire.

Wiltshire is, in many ways, a prime target for these types of organised criminals.

It is in easy reach of gangs in London and Bristol, has good transport links with the M4 and the railway line, and has pockets of deprivation and vulnerable people who are easily exploited.

This is why the ongoing police work, like the proactive Operation Jetway which took place last week, is so crucial.

Over five days around 50 officers were deployed to warrants and raids across the county, acting on intelligence they had uncovered during six months of specialist work.

In total, 63 people were arrested in connection with a range of drugs offences, predominantly the supply of Class A drugs, including heroin and crack cocaine.

This was fantastic work – not only disrupting the supply chains and getting drugs and weapons off our streets, but also highlighting our work to the public.

We know our communities are concerned about drug dealing.

You are telling us all the time about the misery and violence that drug dealing brings to your neighbourhoods.

And there is a huge safeguarding aspect to County Lines.

The drugs gangs from London and Bristol deliberately target children, teenagers and vulnerable adults to recruit them for their operations.

These people become drawn into a life of crime, intrigued and tempted by the money and glamour that these drug dealers promise.

But they then quickly find themselves intimidated and threated with extreme violence, meaning they cannot find a way out.

That is why our war against County Lines must be fought in three distinct ways. Enforcement, Protection and Prevention.

It is not just a policing issue.

Of course we have a role to play, but if we are going to be successful in stamping out these criminals we must work in partnership with other agencies, including but not exclusive to, drug and alcohol charities, housing providers, schools and youth groups.

The County Lines conference we hosted last year is a prime example of the commitment we have from local partners and the voluntary section.

We need to all come together to protect these vulnerable young people and adults so they do not fall victim to these ruthless and unscrupulous gangs who are infiltrating our communities.