POLICE have praised a national crackdown on county lines drug dealing which has resulted in 25 arrests in Brighton and East Sussex.

Sergeant Richard Penrose from the Tactical Enforcement Unit at Sussex Police headed a team of officers during a raid in Donald Hall Road, Brighton, which led to the arrests of three men for drug offences. They have been released on bail while enquiries continue.

The warrant was carried out as part of national county lines intensification week, during which forces across the country stepped up their activity against drug dealing gangs.

Sgt Penrose praised officers for being relentless in pursuing those behind the lines while doing everything possible to rescue those being exploited.

He said: “This week has been really important because county lines drug dealing usually involves what we call cuckooing, which is the taking over of vulnerable people’s properties.

“They quite often exploit children as their drug runners, so actually it’s a really important area of business for us to focus on.

“To be able to put together a bespoke operation for a week helps us to combat and safeguard these people, and tackle those who are exploiting these youngsters.

“It’s really important for us to be able to do that and this week is a culmination of all those efforts.”

The county lines gangs are urban drug dealers who sell to customers in more rural areas via dedicated phone lines.

They are notorious for exploiting children to work as couriers and forcing vulnerable people to let them use their homes to conceal or deal drugs, as portrayed in BBC drama Line Of Duty.

Sgt Penrose said intensification weeks allow the police to show the public their determination to rid communities of drug dealing and other related crime.

He said: “We’re here and in the business of tidying up communities and making people feel safe, and we want to do that in partnership with the public.

“It is really important that we have that link in with them and that we’re transparent about what we’re doing so people feel able to trust us and pass on information about what’s happening in their neighbourhoods.

“The community will have local PCSOs, local meetings and neighbourhood watches. It’s important that the intelligence that the community holds is fed back to us.

“Unless we get that intelligence, it’s really hard for us to act upon it. We’re out there and local neighbourhood policing teams are helping to build those relationships with people in those communities in order to get that intelligence.”

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