Powys's top cop has said he intends to "send a message" to county lines gangs – even if it means breaking doors down and arresting people for possession of small quantities of drugs.

At virtual public meeting of Powys BCU superintendent Steve Davies explained that Dyfed Powys Police, will be changing their tactics to deal with the problem of county lines.

Powys County Councillor for Newtown Central David Selby said: “There is evidence that county lines in Newtown has adapted to Covid-19, are your team also adapting and winning the battle?”

And Supt Davies, who took over command in May, said: “In the past we have taken a longer term investigative approach, building cases.

“You have seen some of the headlines for people being imprisoned for long sentences.

“It’s positive, but all the while it allows the problem to become embedded, but now it’s disrupt. Disrupt at the earliest possible opportunity.

“That means in blunt terms doors going in and people being arrested, even if it’s only for small quantities of drugs.

“We have to send a message that those coming in to the area are going to feel uncomfortable because of the activities of the police.”

Supt Davies added that schemes would also be needed to help “some very challenged and vulnerable young people”.

As part of county lines these are sent by drugs gangs from urban to rural areas to start supply chains.

Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn added that it was important that people contact them especially over concerns about “cuckooing”, in which drug dealers take over a vulnerable person's home and use it as a base.

Cllr Selby added: “It’s reassuring that police tactics are changing, I will continue encouraging residents to keep the information flowing.”

Other issues that have been highlighted included rural crime especially, stolen quad bikes.

Supt Davies said: “Quad bikes and farm machinery is still attractive to the criminals.

“I do think there is a need for manufacturers to play their part in designing out crimes.”

He added that rural crime officers were using “synthetic dna” to mark quad bikes and farm machinery.

The marks can be seen using an ultra violet light and mean that stolen property can be recovered.

Supt Davies added that thefts of heavy plant equipment such as diggers, had fallen once manufacturers had started putting engine immobilisers into them.

He believed this should be done to farm vehicles.