2 minutes reading time (363 words)

What is COUNTY LINES exploitation?

 County lines is a national issue, which involves the use of dedicated phone 'lines', usually mobile phones to facilitate drug dealing to locations outside of the group or gangs home town, usually to smaller towns and rural locations.

In almost all cases the enterprise will involve and rely on the exploitation of vulnerable people, to move drugs and/or money around the country. This can involve both children and adults who may require safeguarding.

In some circumstances these groups or gangs may establish a base to sell or manufacture drugs from. They may befriend a vulnerable person and take over their home by using coercion or force. This practice is referred to as 'cuckooing'. It is common that the person whom they are exploiting is offered drugs in exchange for the use of their home.

County lines involves drugs, violence, gangs, safeguarding, criminal and sexual exploitation, modern slavery, and can also be linked to missing persons.

To successfully tackle this issue there is a need for a multi-agency approach at a national, regional and local level, involving both statutory and third sector partners as well as law enforcement agencies.

Practitioners working with a child or vulnerable person who they think may be  vulnerable to or involved in county lines exploitation should contact the MASH and report their concerns.

You can contact the MASH on 01902 555392 (child) or 01902 551199 (adult).

If you believe there is in immediate risk of harm, you should contact the police 999.

The Serious Violence Strategy launched by the Home Secretary in 2018 highlights country lines as a growing issue. The strategy commits to tackle county lines and supports the development of a national County Lines Co-ordination Centre to respond to the links between county lines drugs, serious violence and related harm and exploitation.

Click here to read a full copy of the strategy

County lines activity and the associated violence, drug dealing, and exploitation has a devastating impact on young people, vulnerable adults and local communities.

Click here for the National Crime Agency's guidance on County Lines

Click here for the Home Office Guidance - Criminal exploitation of children and vulnerable adults county lines 

Click here for Home Office posters to raise awareness of County Lines

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