Imitation gun seized as man is arrested on suspicion of trafficking children in Portsmouth

Specialist police targeting criminals who exploit children have arrested a man on suspicion of trafficking children – and three young boys for drug offences.

Hampshire police revealed the force's Missing and Exploited Team raided three addresses in Paulsgrove and Fratton yesterday.

Police are investigating

Police are investigating

An imitation firearm and more than £2,000 in cash was seized, along with class A and B drugs, believed to be cocaine and cannabis.

The four people arrested were:

:: A 22-year-old man from Portsmouth arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic children under the Modern Slavery Act and conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

:: A 15 year-old boy and two 16-year-old boys from Portsmouth who were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

All four have been released under investigation.

Police declined to say how many victims may be involved.

Detective Inspector Ross Toms said: 'Our priority is to keep young or vulnerable people safe.

‘Child criminal exploitation can be complex and it’s important that our partnership response looks beyond the criminality we initially identify to ensure we protect those involved with the most appropriate outcome.

‘Our message to those individuals exploiting young people is simple.

‘If you choose to use children to supply drugs or exploit them for criminal purposes we will investigate you to pursue a conviction wherever possible.’

Call police on 101 quoting Operation Tipple with any information.