This week we have been carrying out a police operation targeting County Lines gangs across Swindon and Wiltshire.

County Lines is a term which wasn’t widely known a few years ago but has increasingly become more prevalent, thanks to focused media coverage and awareness-raising from police forces across the country.

It refers to the drug dealing methodology where criminal networks, often originating in larger cities such as London and Manchester, expand their activities into smaller towns and rural areas.

They have dedicated phone lines which drug users call to secure a supply of Class A drugs, and they bring with them violence and intimidation to communities.

Here in Wiltshire it has become an increasingly serious issue and one which is linked to knife crime and violent crime, as well as other criminality linked to drug use.

This week we have launched Project Optimise, which is not only looking at County Lines, but the issue of organised crime groups more generally.

Serious organised crime refers to a wide range of crime types and encompasses many areas of demand which face modern-day policing, including people trafficking, high-value burglaries and, of course, illegal drugs.

We know that this is something the police cannot tackle alone.

Which is why Project Optimise focuses on working with agencies and charities.

If we all work together then we can make a bigger difference in stamping out these issues, which cause such a negative impact on our communities.

While the public are not likely to notice a difference to the way in which we police organised crime within the force we will be working hard to ensure frontline officers and staff in all different ranks and roles are aware of the organised crime groups operating in their areas.

We also know that the general public want to support us in these efforts and are often asking us for ways in which they can help and assist us.

Police forces rely on good community relationships. You are our eyes and ears and you can help us by providing information and intelligence about what is happening in your neighbourhood.

For example, there are warning signs to look out for with regard to drug dealing or young people and teenagers getting involved in County Lines gangs.

You can find out more about this by going to our website and searching for terms such as “drug dealing” or “County Lines”.

If we all educate ourselves, then we can all play a part in making our communities safer.

A similar operation we launched in October has seen a number of criminals jailed for several years for a raft of drug supply offences against the most vulnerable in our communities – so these intelligence-led raids have real impact.

Finally, I’d like to pay tribute to all the officers and staff involved in the many warrants taking place across Swindon this week.

This has been the result of months and months of planning and I was delighted to join the teams carrying out raids at various addresses on Monday morning.

I am really pleased to see their efforts paying off with a high number of arrests and thousands of pounds worth of class A drugs seized from our streets.