Drug dealers are targeting “vulnerable people” and taking over their homes, a police officer has warned.

PC Lee Woodworth told members of Connah's Quay Town Council that the process of “cuckooing” is “more rife than people think”.

The term refers to drug gangs moving in and taking over the homes of vulnerable people to sell drugs.

Cuckooing, as it is known, is thought to be on the increase with urban dealers targeting small, rural and coastal towns where there is little or no competition.

PC Woodworth updated councillors on North Wales Police’s effort in tackling drug crime in the town and across Deeside and made a frank admission to the community leaders.

He said: “We know we’ve got a problem in Connah's Quay and in Deeside.

“We’re looking at the bigger picture – it’s not just about stopping people on street corners.”

Cllr Ron Hill said he felt that the area seemed “more and more active” in terms of drug activity but PC Woodworth said “good intel” was helping police crack down on dealers.

He said: “Vulnerable people are being targeted and addresses are being taken over by drug dealers.

“We just want to get these people away from Deeside.

“Unfortunately cuckooing is more rife than people think.”

PC Woodworth's remarks came hot off the heels of Insp Andrew Griffiths’ update to neighbouring Shotton Town Council that dozens of drug warrants have been executed in Deeside in the last four months.

He said North Wales Police had been “really proactive in this area” and that in the last “three to four months” more than 20 drug warrants had been issued and executed.

He added: “The majority of those have been positive.”

Insp Griffiths told community leaders last year that tackling drug crime was one of his top priorities when he moved to the North Flintshire area.