More than 200 people have been arrested as part of a multi-force police operation to tackle county lines drug activity.

Officers from the Metropolitan, Surrey, Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Thames Valley, Hampshire, City of London and British Transport Police were involved in the three-day campaign, called Operation Pandilla, using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) to target vehicles on arterial routes and motorways.

It resulted in 230 arrests for offences including attempted murder, possession with intent to supply class A and B drugs, possession of offensive weapons, possession of firearms, assault and possession of criminal property.

During the operation 22 knives and other weapons were recovered, 54 vehicles were seized and 62 illegal items including drugs were confiscated.

Chief Inspector Jack May Robinson from the Met’s Violent Crime Taskforce said: “Some of the individuals arrested are extremely dangerous, lead criminal lifestyles and exploit vulnerable people to run drugs and commit crime.

"Due to the need to safeguard those who have been exploited, we resourced a dedicated phone line of trained officers to give specialist advice to officers to ensure the best care and response possible.

“Operation Pandilla is part of our effort to target the drivers of violent crime. "Drugs are inextricably linked to a high proportion of the violence; therefore we will continue to target those who exploit children to peddle drugs and target the most vulnerable within our communities. We simply can’t do this alone and must work with our partners.

“Our message to criminals using the road network to transport drugs and illegal assets is clear. We are tirelessly working 24/7 to disrupt you.

"If you are stopped with anything illegal we will arrest you and put you before the courts. We are working stronger together and sharing intelligence across borders to make it as hard as possible for you to run county lines.”