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County Lines is a term which you will have heard a lot through the media. It is used to describe the illegal distribution and dealing of seriously dangerous drugs from one city/town to another. The most common drugs involved are heroin, cocaine (crack and powder) but also MDMA, cannabis and amphetamines.

Gangs recruit and use children and young people to move drugs and money for them. Children as young as 12 years old and up to 17 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.

Gangs sometimes use violence to threaten children and young people when recruiting them. Gangs also violently assault children and young people working for them if they find their drugs or money to be missing. Weapons such as firearms, knives, bats and acid are also sometimes used to make violent threats.

 

Signs of Exploitation

  • Are they going missing from school or their home?

  • Are they travelling alone to places far away from home?

  • Do they suddenly have lots of money/new clothes/new mobile phone?

  • Are they receiving a lot more texts/calls than usual?

  • Are they carrying or selling drugs?

  • Are they carrying weapons or know people that 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?

We have produced an information pack for parents/carers, please take a look at the document here