Drug crime in 2018 rose from the numbers in 2017 but remains lower than it originally was in 2013.

According to statistics from the police data archive, there were 453 drug related crimes in Swindon last year, an increase from the 314 in 2017 but still a decline from the 518 in 2013.

A spokesperson for the Wiltshire Police said: “We are committed to tackling county lines and illegal drugs across the county, whether this is in our rural or urban areas.

“There is a lot of work ongoing and it would be wrong to suggest that we have solved the issue in Swindon.”

One of the biggest issues the police have to deal with, both in Swindon and the county as a whole, is County Lines, a drug dealing methodology that involves exploiting the vulnerable including children and those with mental health or addiction problems.

Wiltshire Police have said that children as young as 12 years old have been recruited, often using social media, and they are also recruited into working on cannabis farms or to commit theft.

The police have also released a guide to signs to look out for if you fear a child is involved in criminal activities such as a change in mood, changes in the way they dress, unexplained and sometimes unaffordable new things, seen in different cars and taxis driven by unknown adults and unexplained injuries.

Detective Inspector Paul Franklin said: “It is difficult to show the full picture of the impact of County Lines using statistics on drug offences, the reality if that there are County Lines networks active in Wiltshire and children and vulnerable adults are being exploited.

“These drug networks have a knock-on effect in all our communities with the associate increased violence, anti-social behaviour and other drug related offences.

"There is no easy or quick fix to this national problem, and it cannot be dealt with by police enforcement alone.

“Cross border policing, targeted operations dedicated units, proactive patrols, closure orders and early intervention for young people are some of a number of tools we can use but it has to be a multi-agency response in order to best reach those who really need our help.”

Vulnerable adults can also be targeted with their homes being used as bases to stash and deal drugs.

Wiltshire Police also released some signs that could spot one of these homes including other people seen inside the house who don’t normally live there, people coming and going from the property at all hours, not seeing the person who lives there as frequently and seeing drugs paraphernalia near to the property.

Paul added: "Education is key and we are working with our colleagues in the local authorities, schools and safeguarding to provide information and highlight the dangers.

“We encourage everyone to make themselves aware of the signs to look out for and help us stop these criminals from exploiting our young and vulnerable people.

"Even if you are not 100% sure please contact us with any information as it may mean another child or vulnerable person can be saved from a life of violence and fear.

“We need information from the public and ask anyone who has information to come forward."