The growing threat to our communities of ‘county lines’ drug dealing and the exploitation associated with it is being highlighted by a new campaign.
The charity Crimestoppers launched a national campaign this week to highlight county lines and encourage the public to report their concerns.
Glenys Balchin, regional manager for Crimestoppers, said: “We know that the term ‘county lines’ might not be widely recognised, which is why we are launching this campaign and asking for your help to support us in tackling this issue.
“We need help to put a stop to this exploitation and the damage that these criminals are inflicting on our communities and those being taken advantage of.
“We are asking you to contact us anonymously and safely through our 0800 555 111 number, or via our secure online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org - both methods are 100 per cent anonymous. Always.
“Together we can put a stop to this.”
An advan is touring the two counties today and tomorrow, giving people more information on how they can play their part in helping to tackle this issue.
In addition, a social media campaign has also been launched by the charity to raise awareness of the crime.
What is County Lines?
The charity said county lines refers to gangs and organised criminal networks which export illegal drugs into suburban, rural and coastal areas, using dedicated mobile phone lines or “deal line.”
The crime sees county lines gangs exploit children and vulnerable adults to move drugs and money.
The gangs move into a rural or suburban area for a short time, taking over the home of a vulnerable person where they set up a base.
Many of those taken advantage of by these gangs have been forced to carry out criminal activity by threats, grooming and extortion and can be described as modern day slaves, the charity said.
Spot the signs and report concerns
Have you noticed:
A child or young person (sometimes as young as 12), during school hours or unusual hours (e.g. early in the morning, late at night)? They might be in a shopping centre or high street, or on public transport.
A child or young person who seems unfamiliar with the local area?
A child or young person being approached or intimidated by a controlling peer or group?
A child or vulnerable person who is deliberately avoiding authority figures such as police officers or security guards?
More people calling at a local address than normal? Sometimes at unsociable hours?
Suspicious vehicles or people at an address?
A neighbour has not been seen for a while?
If you see something concerning either a young or vulnerable person that doesn’t feel right, or looks suspicious, you can report your concerns 100% anonymously to the charity Crimestoppers. You can contact us on 0800 555 111 or send an untraceable online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org.
Crimestoppers are working closely with the Home Office, which is running a campaign which targets staff who may encounter young people who are being exploited by the practice of county lines.
The Home Office campaign targets staff in the transport, private security and accommodation sector and provides them with a range of materials including posters, guidance booklets on how to identify a young person is may be being exploited by county lines gangs and, how to safeguard that vulnerable young person.
If you recognise any of the signs listed above, Crimestoppers wants to hear your information.
You can contact them anonymously on 0800 555 111 or can send an untraceable online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org.