BORIS Johnson has said that county lines is a “national scourge” and a “real problem” on a visit to the area.

It’s believed that Taylor Williams, who was stabbed to death in Basingstoke in August, was killed as part of a plot to steal drugs from him.

The Prime Minister said that it is a “tragedy that kids are getting stabbed on the streets, because they are the victims of shadowy figures that are running these county lines gangs”.

Speaking to reporters after addressing troops on Salisbury Plain, Mr Johnson told the Advertiser: “What we’ve got to do is two things, first of all put more money into policing, get more cops out onto the streets, to wind up the gangs and deter kids from carrying knives.”

The second thing, he said, is to be “rolling up” the kingpins of drug networks, and giving them “very serious sentences”.

“Young people are dying to further their profits,” he continued.

Mr Johnson has been very vocal since taking over as Prime Minister about his support for the police, pledging to hire an extra 20,000 officers in the next three years – a plan costing over £1 billion.

However, Martin Hewitt, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, has said up to half a million people will need to apply to become police officers if the PM’s plans are to be met.

However, speaking on Thursday, Mr Johnson said that 46,000 people will be interviewed for the new roles, saying “we’re working hard on it”.

“We think we can do about seven or eight thousand a year, and to the best of my knowledge the first recruiting is starting now.”

Towns across the country are facing issues with gangs from London transporting drugs through smaller towns.

Three people charged in connection with the murder of Williams on August 31.

Olamide Soyege, 28 from Dagenham, and Terrance Maccabee, 18 from Peckham, have both been charged with the 18-year-old’s murder, as well as drug offences.

Meanwhile, Paige Taylor, of Basingstoke, has been charged with robbery of Class A drugs and conspiracy to rob others “from a drug network”.

Winchester Crown Court has also heard in recent months how a group known as the ‘Drive Marlow Crew’ had been running a drugs network in Hampshire.

After the final sentencing on Monday, the total amount that the gang is set to spend in prison is nearly 64 years.