This week, police in Barnsley recovered 854 cannabis plants after executing a warrant on Old Doncaster Road, Wath.
It came as part of South Yorkshire Police’s national week of action on ‘cuckooing’ a term used to describe the exploitation of vulnerable people, particularly children, pushed into selling drugs.
This week, police also visited a vulnerable adult in Barnsley who is believed to be at risk of cuckooing.
A plan has now been put in place to safeguard her and support her to move home, police told the Chronicle.
As part of the crackdown, officers have also worked with local businesses across the town centre - as well as Barnsley Interchange staff - to raise awareness of cuckooing and the signs of exploitation.
Detective Inspector Aneela Khalil-Khan said: “The production and supply of drugs is irrevocably linked to violent crime and the exploitation of vulnerable people.
“Members of organised crime groups systematically move children and vulnerable adults between counties in order to supply drugs and widen their network.
“Gangs also ‘cuckoo’ vulnerable adults, which sees them take over their homes to distribute drugs over a period of days, weeks or even months.
“It’s vital we all work together to disrupt criminals and protect those most at risk.
“It’s something we prioritise constantly, but these weeks of action enable us to pool resources and work together to take action and gain a better understanding of what is happening in our force area.”
While police tasking teams target suspect addresses, PCSOs and neighbourhood officers speak to those most at risk of being targeted and mistreated and, if needed, put safeguarding measures in place.
DI Khalil-Khan added: “Tackling this type of criminality and protecting vulnerable people cannot be done by us alone, and we are working hard alongside key partner agencies, local schools and charities to raise awareness and protect those who are most at risk.
“Victims are often mistakenly viewed as having chosen to engage in criminal behaviour.
“What we need to understand is why they are engaging in this and how they became involved.
“Simultaneously, we also need to focus on enforcement activity, disrupting criminal networks and taking drugs off the streets.”
If you have any information in relation to drugs supply, or you are worried about someone close to you becoming involved in criminal activity, call 101, or if you would like to remain completely anonymous, you can speak to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.