So-called county lines - a term used for crime associated with gangs crossing borders to expand their drug network - has become a problem for police bosses in areas such as Bolton-upon-Dearne, Goldthorpe and Thurnscoe.
Operation Fortify, which was set up as a response to residents’ concerns about high levels of drugs and gangs allegedly using derelict housing as boltholes for dealing, has secured more cash to pinpoint priority activities for officers involved.
We can now reveal that ‘five-figure’ sums will be spent on a co-ordinator whose role will be to assess active organised crime groups (OCGs) and more cash will be spent on tackling the illegal distribution of tobacco across Barnsley.
Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “The Fortify fund was developed to provide funding to tackle violent crime in relation to serious organised crime. Organisations were able to apply for funding of up to £20,000 for single-district projects or up to £40,000 for multi-district ones.
“Proposed activities were required to address one of more of the areas of focus of the violence reduction unit and all funded activities will be required to submit monitoring information next year.
“Modern crime gangs will ruthlessly exploit vulnerable people and we must ensure that the response is able to deal with this.
“South Yorkshire Police has a good record of dealing with organised crime gangs and is very proactive targeting and disrupting their activities.
“However, it is not enough to tackle the gangs after the event. We need more and more to get upstream of crime and prevent people being drawn into gangs in the first place.”
Drugs raids have continued in recent weeks in the Dearne, which has resulted in seizures of tobacco and cannabis and two people being arrested.
Since 2014, more than 79,000 illegal cigarettes and 800 packets of hand-rolled tobacco have been removed from Barnsley’s streets.
Inspector Rebecca Richardson added: “We are committed to targeting organised crime in our communities to protect those living and working in the area, including the most vulnerable members of our society.
“We are stronger when we work with our communities and continue to urge people to ring 101 with any information or concerns they may have.
“Signs to look out for are those who drive round in expensive vehicles, take holidays and have expensive belongings, without having a job.
“I also urge you to continue to report any concerns you have over properties, including those, who have a large amount of people coming and going, people coming to the address at odd times throughout the night and those who may have cars pulling up outside for a short time.”