DOZENS of people seeking to exploit individuals through drug dealing and money laundering have been arrested as part of a dedicated police campaign.

A total of 87 people were arrested by Thames Valley Police as part of the ongoing Stronghold campaign between September and December last year.

The force's Serious and Organised Crime Unit has dealt with a wide range of offences, such as the supply of Class A drugs, possession of offensive weapons and money laundering.

Since the Stronghold initiative started in 2017, more than 1,300 have been arrested for their involvement in serious and organised crime.

Detective chief inspector Mark Spencer said: “Stronghold is Thames Valley Police’s commitment to tackle people who commit serious and organised crime and those who exploit others to do so”

“These groups and people are a blight on our communities and the criminal activity they carry out often exploits vulnerable people forcing them to potentially deal drugs, force them into work or in some cases into sexual exploitation.

“Through our Stronghold campaign, we will continue to work with our partners such as local authorities, charities, as well as other agencies and police forces in order to target these criminals bring them to justice and also safeguard anyone they are exploiting."

The results of the Stronghold scheme have been staggering, resulting in 518 people being charged, 373 convictions and more than 1,460 years in prison sentences.

Additionally, warrants have resulted in more than £3.9m being recovered, more than 56kg of drugs seized and 30 firearms and numerous weapons taken out of the hands of offenders.

“The public pay an important part in this ongoing fight against serious and organised crime.

“We need them to keep reporting to us criminal activity that they might be aware of in their community, this information is vital as it helps us build up intelligence and take action.

“Additionally we would ask people to keep an eye out for members of the community who might be being exploited by criminals and report it.”