EIGHT people were arrested in Barnsley as part of a South Yorkshire Police crackdown on organised crime.

Barnsley officers, led by the Organised Crime Team at the force and supported by neighbourhood officers, were busy last week as they carried out a series of raids to disrupt organised crime.

Organised crime groups (OCGs) cause fear and harm within the local community - with many often exploiting vulnerable people to gain large amounts of money to fund their lifestyles.

On Wednesday morning, officers across Hoyland and Monk Bretton carried out six warrants at properties thought to be involved in organised crime.

A total of eight people were arrested - seven men and one woman - aged between 26 and 45 for a variety of offences.

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These included possession with intent to supply Class A and B drugs.

A 43-year-old woman was also interviewed by the police voluntarily.

After the eight people were arrested, six properties were ‘thoroughly searched’ by trained officers - and a number of drugs were found.

Officers found cannabis, other drugs believed to be Class A, tens of thousands of pounds of money and other valuable assets which police believe were gained through proceeds of crime.

Rebecca Richardson, neighbourhood inspector for South Yorkshire Police, said: “Raiding properties is one part of the work of our officers, the next step is for detectives to prove the associations between the suspects arrested and proving the criminal intents between the network.

“In addition to serious crime, OCGs are linked to antisocial behaviour, vehicle nuisance, drug use and drug supply - all of which are at the heart of what we tackle in neighbourhood policing.

“We want to make our neighbourhoods as safe as possible for people to live and work in.

“Wednesday was very successful.

“We have arrested the suspects we sought, got a wealth of evidence recovered, we will now be working earnestly to get that to the courts and achieve the best outcomes there that we can.”

Back in February, police bosses announced priority will be given in order to tackle drug-peddling crime members in some of the town’s most deprived areas.

Barnsley’s district commander, Chief Superintendent James Abdy, said two OCGs had been ‘dismantled’ through targeted work including operations dubbed Duxford, Voyager and Sceptre.

Over recent months South Yorkshire Police’s task force Operation Fortify have prosecuted 11 people linked to organised crime groups.

Work has also increased alongside Barnsley Council to safeguard youngsters who are vulnerable to organised criminality as it’s believed periods of lockdown owing to the Covid-19 pandemic have exacerbated issues.

Dr Alan Billings, the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Children and young people’s exposure to risk and vulnerability is likely to have increased during lockdown.

“I have maintained funding which contributes to the work of the youth offending services at Barnsley Council to support their work in engaging with young people who have committed crime, or are on the cusp of offending.

“I will continue to give full support a wide range of partners in seeking, among other things, to prevent children and young people being harmed and exploited in the first place.”