Know the signs to spot child exploitation for drug trafficking

Guidance has been created to help adults to spot the signs that could indicate that someone is a victim of county lines gangs.

Published: Wednesday, 2nd January 2019

The Home Office and CrimeStoppers has published guidance and posters to help staff working with children, young people and vulnerable adults to spot the signs that could indicate that someone is a victim of county lines gangs.

The booklet and posters aims to help people look for the signs in potential victims and report concerns to CrimeStoppers for those they believe may be a victim of county lines– gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more areas using mobile phone lines.

Gangs typically recruit and exploit children and vulnerable young people to courier drugs and cash. Typically, users ask for drugs via a mobile phone line used by the gang. Couriers travel between the gang’s urban base and the county or coastal locations on a regular basis to collect cash and deliver drugs.

To complement the police forces own local awareness-raising work, the Home Office is running a national campaign to raise awareness of county lines and how staff can report concerns. This campaign is currently targeting the following sectors and the Home Office has created bespoke materials for the following sectors: private security, licensed taxi and private hire, bus and coach companies, train operating companies, private landlords and letting agents

The signs to spot are:

  • They may be from another area, so may not be familiar with an area (may look lost) and may have a distinct urban accent
  • They may be travelling during school hours or unusual hours (e.g. late in the evening)
  • An obvious relationship with controlling, older individuals
  • Suspicion of self-harm, physical assault or unexplained injuries
  • Excessive receipt of texts or phone calls

You can access the guidance booklet and bespoke materials from watford.gov.uk/countylines. You can contact CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.

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