In June I joined police on a raid of a former nightclub in Torquay which was being used as a cannabis factory.

Behind a nondescript door and covered windows officers found 416 cannabis plants, with an estimated street value of up to £350,000. The grower had been hidden in a compartment of the building, where they had a fridge full of food and everything they needed to survive and maintain a massive illegal drugs production line.

The raid protected vulnerable people, led to a criminal being placed behind bars and took a haul of dangerous drugs out of the town I call home. It was part of round five of Operation Scorpion, an initiative to bring South West forces together to target drug dealing and provide support to those exploited by it.

I was delighted that Devon and Cornwall Police had achieved this result, and many more around the region, but they were only able to take this action because a civic-minded member of the public had spotted some unusual activity and let the force know.

As the sixth round of Operation Scorpion gets under way – with a focus on county lines dealing - I am appealing to residents of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to watch out for signs of this in their community and to inform police or the charity Crimestoppers.

My network of 350 councillor advocates – local authority members who work with community policing teams around the two counties – have been given Operation Scorpion posters which ask people to report the signs of county lines dealing in young or vulnerable people. These can be:

A child or young person going missing from school or home, or significant changes in emotional wellbeing

A person meeting unfamiliar adults or a change to their behaviour

The use of drugs and alcohol

Unexplained bus or train tickets

Acquiring money or expensive gifts they can’t account for

Lone children from outside of the area

Individuals with multiple mobile phones, tablets or SIM cards.

Use of unusual terms - e.g. "going country"

Young people with more money, expensive clothing, or accessories than they can account for

Unknown or suspicious-looking characters coming and going from a neighbour’s house

Relationships with controlling or older individuals, or associations with gangs

Suspicion of self-harm, physical assault, malnutrition or unexplained injuries

My message to every reader of this column is that these crimes may be happening in your community – if you tell police about it, they will respond.

Anyone with information about suspected drug dealing in their community can report it to police via the 101 non emergency contact service, or 999 if a crime is in progress. Information can be passed anonymously to the force, via the independent charity Crimestoppers, on 0800 555111 or on the website