A police force is using data found on drug dealers’ phones to identify and support potential addicts.

Essex Police said SMS text messages would be sent to numbers found on devices owned by known county lines drug dealers.

The messages will offer those trying to overcome substance abuse a way to seek help from a charity.

Det Ch Insp Lewis Basford said the force hoped to reach “thousands” of people through the scheme.

He said: “Drugs gangs exploit drug users and vulnerable people, and we know there are people who may feel trapped by their lifestyle or frightened to get help.

“We want them to know there is a way out and there are people who can help them.”

The Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit is providing funding for the cost of sending the messages.

“The cost associated with this is minimal,” said Det Ch Insp Basford. “The cost associated with drug use and dependency is much higher.

“So the cost-based benefit just for one person would be worth it.”

Read the full story on BBC News: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-56405172

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