ARRESTS have been made across North Yorkshire as police crack down on 'county lines' drug dealing.

County lines is the term given to a type of drug dealing where criminals from urban areas such as West Yorkshire and Manchester, exploit young and vulnerable people, forcing them to travel to county towns such as Harrogate or York to sell drugs.

It also involves a practice known as “cuckooing” which is where drug dealers use threats of violence to take over the homes of vulnerable people and use them as a base to store and sell drugs.

In the past week North Yorkshire Police have arrested eight people and carried out over 30 welfare visits to vulnerable people in connection with the crime.

Officers also visited pharmacies across Harrogate to raise awareness and help staff recognise the signs that someone might be vulnerable or exploited.

Detective Chief Inspector Graeme Wright of North Yorkshire Police, said: “This national week of action provided an opportunity to highlight and intensify the proactive work going on across the county every day.

“The vulnerability aspect of county lines makes this an utmost priority for North Yorkshire Police to the extent that we have dedicated teams across the county whose sole focus is disrupting county lines activity and safeguarding vulnerable people.

"Since April 2018, the teams have made over 200 arrests."

Det Chf Insp Wright said the public can also play a vital role in reporting any suspicions about drug dealing in their neighbourhood to the police.

In a report released this week, the National Crime Agency (NCA) reveals children as young as 11 are being used to run county lines drug networks worth nearly £1 million a year.

Teenagers between 15 and 17 are believed to make up the bulk of the vulnerable people involved in the operations, acting as drug mules and cash couriers.

In its fourth annual assessment on the activity, the NCA said the supply of class A drugs through the county lines business model is a "significant, national threat".