DRUG crimes reported by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) went up by nearly a quarter in a year as the force tackles gangs exploiting vulnerable people.

Home Office data shows there were 7,341 drug offences logged in the year up to September 2020, 24 per cent higher than the 12 months before.

And quarterly statistics found that there was a massive 80 per cent rise in drug offences offences reported from July to September (2,068) compared with the same three-month period the year before.

However, there may have been more targeted operations last year than in 2019.

GMP says it is committed to "disrupting and dismantling" drugs gangs.

Chief Inspector Chris Mossop from GMP's Challenger Unit said: “Protecting the most vulnerable members of our community is a priority for GMP, and as part of this work, we look to prevent those that have been subject to, and are at risk of exploitation.

"We are currently running an enhanced operation known as Op Flood, with the aim of disrupting and dismantling identified and new/emerging organised crime gangs running drug-related activity within, and beyond Greater Manchester.

"Op Flood is driven by intelligence, and focused resources will be deployed in line with evidence we have, and continue to collect.

"We will proactively pursue individuals with a view to arrest offenders, remove controlled drugs from the streets, tackle illicit finances and investigate upstream supply."

The force is also urging residents to contact the force with any information they have to help them bring criminals to justice.

CI Mossop said: "It is important we are all aware of the signs, looking out for others is everyone’s responsibility, and even more so in the current climate.

"Members of our local communities can play an integral role in providing intelligence that may support GMP, local authorities, and a multitude of other agencies who collectively set out to combat this type of criminality.

“I would encourage anyone with concerns to come forward.

"The intel provided will be acted upon, and will help us protect further victims being exploited by organised crime.

"If you have any concerns or would like to make a report, please get in touch via our website where you can use our LiveChat facility, or report a crime via our online reporting facility at: https://www.gmp.police.uk/ or by dealing 101.

"Always dial 999 in an emergency.

“I hope this serves as a warning that we will continue to pursue those involved in this criminal activity, and also reassure the public that preventing and protecting those involved in this type of crime is at the heart of the multi partner approach we take.”