The movement of policing from a traditional reactive approach to a more proactive ‘intelligence-led’ approach has been a widespread but infrequently evaluated process. This study compares 200 offenders arrested for dealing Class A drugs in public spaces, half of whom have been arrested through ‘intelligence-led’ police operations and half of whom have been arrested through traditional ‘reactive’ approaches. Analysis shows the offenders arrested through an intelligence-led approach show a ‘local lifestyle’ profile. They are more likely to be older, be unemployed and live closer to their drug market, are less likely to diversify in relation to the illicit drugs sold, and show a high incidence of prior offending (especially in relation to acquisitive crime). The study argues that taking an intelligence-led approach to open drug markets identifies prolific offenders who cause the most distress to the local community, as well as highlighting those most in need for treatment services.