GARAGES that could be used by organised crime groups to store drugs and weapons are being reclaimed by police as part of a new campaign.

As part of Operation Paxton, police are working with housing agencies to identify garages being improperly used, such as those left insecure, before searching them for any evidence of criminal activity.

The garages will then be secured.

Onward Homes visited 13 private garages on the Beechwood Estate in Wirral supported by officers, who provided specialist resources including the Dog Section to assist with searching the garage units.

Temporary Inspector Ian Murphy said: "While our searches today found no evidence of criminality, we have been able to secure these garages to protect them from opportunist criminals.

"I want those criminals who store and carry drugs, weapons and stolen goods in the heart of our communities to be left in no doubt: there are no hiding places we won't search.

"We will work with partners and devote significant resources to searching garages such as these, and bringing to justice anyone found to have been involved in using them for illicit means.

"We know the communities of Merseyside share our determination to rid the streets of drugs and violent crime, and we regularly receive information about where they might be stored.

"Every week we successfully take stolen goods, drugs and weapons out of the hands of criminals.

"We act on this information all the time, and Operation Paxton is just one of many methods at our disposal, as well as open land searches, warrants and more."

Dave Mayner, regional director at Onward, said: "We're proud to be making a positive difference in our communities by collaborating with key partners such as Merseyside Police.

"We all share the same concerns of our neighbourhoods and we're working hard to ensure that our communities are free of drugs and violence."

Anyone with information on where drugs, weapons or stolen goods are being stored in their area can contact Merseyside Police social media desk via Twitter @MerPolCC or Facebook Merseyside Police CC.

Alternatively, call 101, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously, on 0800 555 111 or online at: