County Lines is a very serious issue where criminal gangs set up a drug dealing operation in a place outside their usual operating area. Gangs will move their drug dealing from big cities (e.g. London, Manchester, Liverpool etc.) to smaller towns in order to make more money. This can have a really big effect on the community who live there and bring with it serious criminal behaviour.
Being a part of County Lines will often mean that the young person will become involved in the following:
Drugs - County Lines commonly involves the illegal distribution and dealing of seriously dangerous drugs from one city/town to another.
violence - Gangs sometimes use violence to threaten children and young people when recruiting them.
EXPLOITATION - Gangs recruit and use children and young people to move drugs and money for them. Children as young as 11 years old are recruited, often using social media. They are exploited and forced to carry drugs between locations, usually on trains or coaches. They are also forced to sell drugs to local users.
SEXUAL EXPLOITATION - Young girls are often groomed and forced into relationships with gang members and are made to perform sexual acts.
As a parent it’s good to know what signs and indicators you can look out for if you are concerned your child is involved in “County Lines”. Please see the list below:
- Are they always going missing from school or their home?
- Are they travelling alone to places far away from home?
- Do they suddenly have lots of money/lots of new clothes/new mobile phones?
- Are they receiving many more calls or texts than usual?
- Are they carrying or selling drugs?
- Are they carrying weapons or know people who have access to weapons?
- Are they in a relationship with, or hanging out with someone/people that are older and controlling?
- Do they have unexplained injuries?
- Do they seem very reserved or seem like they have something to hide?
- Do they seem scared?
- Are they self-harming?
There are words and terms commonly used by people who are involved in County Lines, these words will describe the County Lines activity taking place. A list is provided below:
CUCKOOING - Cuckooing is when drug gangs take over the home of a vulnerable person through violence and intimidation, using it as their base for selling/manufacturing drugs.
GOING COUNTRY - It can also mean the act of travelling to another city/town to deliver drugs or money.
TRAPPING - Trapping can refer to the act of moving drugs from one town to another or the act of selling drugs in one.
TRAP HOUSE - A building used as a base from where drugs are sold (or sometimes manufactured). These houses usually are occupied by someone, usually adult drug users. Sometimes young people are forced to stay in trap houses.
TRAP LINE - This refers to when someone owns a mobile phone specifically for the purpose of running and selling of drugs.
If you are concerned your child is involved in County Lines, please contact the safeguarding team on (01709) 760222. Alternatively you can call 101 or in an emergency 999.
If you want to make a referral but remain anonymous, you can call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or Childline on 0800 1111.
You can find more information on the link below.
Safecall Support Service
Provide a national telephone based support service to those in crisis caused by County Lines including young people, families/carers and professionals. We operate 24 hours a day seven days a week.
For young people we provide crisis support, whether this is at 3pm on a Monday afternoon or 3am on a Saturday morning. We are here to them with safety planning and mapping, mobilising help from other agencies and supplying them with a free safety device (Ownfone) where appropriate.
To refer a young person or family member (with their consent) you can;
Complete the on line referral form, link below. Both young people and family members can complete this.
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone Safecall – 0208 392 5710 between 10am – 18:00 hours Monday to Friday.
Telephone Missing People Helpline 24 hours a day 7 days a week – 116 000 (who will respond outside of Safecall office hours).