A TOTAL of 32 people have been arrested today as part of a  high-profile operation.

Around 250 officers were involved in Operation ImpACT − a series of dawn raids targeting organised crime and illegal drugs. The operation is one of the largest ever undertaken by the force.

The 32 people arrested - 27 men and five women - are currently helping police with their enquiries.

Warrants were executed at a number of properties in Blacon, Hoole and The Lache, and across Merseyside.

Specialist officers were used to gain entry to the properties and officers, who are experts in search techniques, are now carrying out detailed searches of all the addresses.

Superintendent Paul Williams, Crime Manager for the Western Area, said: "The strike phase this morning is the culmination of many months of work focusing on a number of individuals suspected of being involved in organised crime/illegal drugs. Over that period intelligence and evidence has been gathered and this has culminated today in these high-profile raids.

"Operation ImpACT reinforces the commitment that the police and partner agencies have in targeting those people that undermine our communities and bring misery to residents through their involvement in organised crime and illegal drugs.

"This sort of behavior can have a major impact on local communities. It is an issue the force takes extremely seriously and we devote all the resources we can to tracing those responsible and disrupting their behaviour."

The majority of the warrants have been carried out as a result of information that has been passed on by the local community.

Following the execution of the warrants local neighbourhood officers are carrying out high-visibility patrols to offer reassurance to local residents.

Officers will be handing out leaflets to homes in the areas affected and talking to members of the local community about the action that has been taken.

Superintendent Williams added: "We hope that the success of today′s operation reassures local people that we are listening to what they are saying and are taking those concerns seriously.

Community intelligence is vital and helps us to build up a bigger picture of what is happening in a particular area and to work out the best ways of dealing with any issues.

"The dedication of the staff involved in the operation today has been outstanding and I would like to assure residents that we will always act on the information provided to us. The corrosive effect that drug abuse and associated criminality has on our communities is well known, and we are committed to a relentless focus on tackling the problem and targeting those involved."

Cheshire's deputy Police & Crime Commissioner Margaret Ollerenshaw observed this morning operation.

She said "It′s important that organised crime gangs are targeted in this way, preventing them from creating more victims and having a negative impact on the community. I was extremely impressed with the work carried out by the Constabulary. I hope it sends a clear message to criminals in the county, there′s nowhere for them to hide."

Information from members of the public is vital in the fight against drug related crime.

Anyone with any information in relation to drug use and supply in their area should call police on 101.

Information can also be passed on anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.