POLICE across Worcestershire are continuing to target county lines drug gangs, even during lockdown.

County lines drug gangs exploit young or vulnerable people, using sophisticated grooming techniques to coerce them into selling drugs, before using fear and violence to control them.

For many young people the lure of extra money or gifts, such as expensive trainers or clothes, can seem tempting. But, these tactics mean the young person is then in the debt of the drugs gang and, owes them a favour, which they call in by coercing them into carrying a weapon or selling drugs.

County lines drug gangs have no issue in putting a young or vulnerable person at risk to facilitate their drug dealing.

Chief Superintendent Tom Harding, head of local policing, said: “We know that some young and vulnerable people have been put in difficult and frightening situations and have made decisions that have unfortunately changed their lives and the lives of others forever.

“I want to send a clear message to county lines drug gangs exploiting young and vulnerable people in our communities that despite the country being in lock down we are continuing to focus our efforts to target them.

“The public play a huge part in supporting our work and I would encourage anyone who is concerned someone they know is being targeted to let us know.

“We want friends to look out for each other. We know the past few weeks have been difficult for young people and they have not been able to meet up with their friends, but it could be they know one of their friends is still going out and meeting up with older people, maybe they have started to talk about expensive gifts they have been given, or talk about associating with older people.

“We know some young people may not want to talk to the police about their concerns, they don’t need to. Information can be passed anonymously to Fearless, an organisation dedicated to young people with a host of information and advice.”

Concerns can be reported online at www.westmercia.police.uk/ro/report/ocr/af/how-to-report-a-crime/.