So-called county lines - a term used for crime associated with gangs crossing borders to expand their drug network - is said to have become a problem for police bosses due to Barnsley’s road links to West Yorkshire and beyond.
The scheme, led by the National Crime Agency from October 7, resulted in crack cocaine, MDMA and cannabis being seized, as well as a number of weapons including air pistols, samurai swords, a machete, knives and the cash.
South and West Yorkshire forces, as well as Barnsley Council, are working together to combat county lines crime, with officers in both marked and unmarked vehicles patrolling on-the-border routes which are said to be used by gangs.
Officers took part in the week of action to combat the crime which sees groups or gangs using children or vulnerable adults to carry and sell drugs from one area to another, which resulted in 33 arrests.
A police spokesperson said: “As a force we have carried out a great deal of enforcement activity and enforcement work to safeguard vulnerable people.
“We have also released a checklist of signs for parents and carers of vulnerable people to look out for to help prevent county lines crime from happening.
“By looking out for potential warning signs, people can help protect their children from those who want to take advantage of them for criminal gain.
“We are doing what we can to bring those criminals to justice but by watching out for a few key warning signs they can help protect loved ones from criminals.”
Officers spoke to four juveniles and three adults potentially at risk of being used in county lines crime and visited seven addresses where it was thought ‘cuckooing’ might have been taking place, where the home of a victim is taken over, often for use as a base for criminal activity.
A multi-council child exploitation team is now up and running, with officers tasked with working with young people in local communities where organised crime is prevalent, such as Goldthorpe and Bolton-upon-Dearne.
The initiative has been funded by Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, through a £703,432 Home Office grant which will provide two years’ working and involves Barnsley Council, Doncaster and Rotherham.
Coun Margaret Bruff, cabinet spokesperson for children’s services, said there will be a ‘continued commitment’ to preventing exploitation.
“We are committed to preventing any occurrences of child criminal exploitation in Barnsley,” she added.
“We already do a lot of work to keep our young people safe from harm, including preventing them getting involved in criminal activity, and this partnership project will provide further support.
“It’s a borough-wide priority to keep our most vulnerable safe from harm and there’s a continued commitment for that.”