County lines is where illegal drugs are sold and transported from one area of the county to another, often across police and local authority boundaries. Usually, but not always, these transportations are carried out by young or vulnerable people who are coerced/exploited by gangs and organised criminal networks to carry out these behaviours. The ‘County Line’ is the mobile phone line used to take the orders and of drugs. Importing areas have increased levels of violence and weapons-related crimes as a result of this trend.
Cuckooing can result from county lines operations and this is where people take over a person’s home and use the property to facilitate exploitation for example the selling and storage of drugs or money.
Exploitation comes alongside county lines. People can be exploited and become exposed to physical, mental and sexual abuse, and in some instances will be trafficked to areas a long way from home as part of the network’s drug dealing business. As we have seen in child sexual exploitation, children often don’t see themselves as victims or realise they have been groomed to get involved in criminality.
What to do:
- Consider reporting to the police, if you would rather remain anonymous, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. If somebody is in danger, call 999
- If you notice something linked to the railways, you can report concerns to the British Transport Police by texting 61016 from your mobile. In an emergency dial 999.
- If you are a young person who is worried about your involvement, or a friend’s involvement in county lines a good option is to speak to an adult you trust and talk to them about your concerns.