Nine people have been arrested following yesterday’s unprecedented police operation to shut down a string of suspected drugs dens in St Helens.
Officers executed warrants at 16 addresses across the borough where they believed drug dealers were operating.
A total of 13 closures notices were issued with a view to closing them for a three-month period.
It is believed this is the first time these civil powers have been used on such a large scale.
Searches are continuing today at all 16 properties.
Preliminary searches uncovered a quantity of drugs and stolen property.
Police have yet to reveal where in St Helens the raids took place, or the address of the homes subjected to closure notices.
Nine people. all from the St Helens area, were arrested following the operation and are currently being questioned at St Helens police station.
Three males aged 54, 20 and 16-years-old and a 47-year-old woman have been arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods and possessing drugs with intent to supply.
A 44-year-old man and two women aged 30 and 24-years-old have been arrested on suspicion of possessing controlled drugs.
A 27-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of theft act and a 42-year-old has been arrested in connection with an outstanding court warrant.
Insp Dave Brennan, of St Helens town centre team, said: “Today’s operation has been targeted at the organised criminals supplying controlled drugs in the St Helens Central Area.
“We have acted on behalf of the vast majority of residents who have seen their streets blighted by drugs and anti-social behaviour and by criminals using these addresses to supply drugs.
“Nobody should have to put up with this and we will make sure that we help the decent residents take back their community.
“Today’s operation is about disrupting criminal activity and showing the community that we will continue to take action against everyone involved. “We are extremely grateful to the large number of residents who were brave enough to come forward and provide vital evidence which has allowed us to conduct this operation.
“Information from the local community is vital in our efforts to tackle those involved in drug crime. As well as using our criminal powers, we are using civil powers today, with a view to close these properties for a prolonged period.
“These civil orders allow residents to enjoy the quality of life that they are entitled to, giving them some much-needed breathing space from those at these addresses who commit these types of crimes.
“This time also gives private landlords to look at other civil action they can take against disruptive tenants.
“I would continue to encourage residents to get in contact with any information about drug activity or anti-social behaviour to get in contact via 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
The orders mean no-one can reside at the address and anyone found breaching the order faces arrest.