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Keep your child safe from County Lines

‘County Lines’ is the police term used to describe gangs supplying drugs to suburban areas, market and coastal towns across the UK using dedicated mobile phone lines. These organised crime networks exploit children and young people to store, move, sell and deliver their drugs, often making them travel across counties.

They use children because they are cheaper, more easily controlled and less likely to be picked up by the police.

Gangs also look for children with emotional vulnerability, such as those experiencing problems at home, absent or busy parents or bereavement, and then seek and fill that emotional gap and become ‘their family’, then take advantage of them.

These children and young people are groomed, threatened or tricked into trafficking drugs for gangs who often use intimidation and violence, or threaten the young person’s family. They might also offer something in return for the young person’s cooperation, for example money, food, alcohol, clothes and jewellery, or improved status, but these gifts will usually be manipulated so that the child feels they are in debt to their exploiter and have no choice but to do what they want.

What are the signs that a child or young person is involved in County Lines?

  • leaving home without explanation, returning home unusually late or staying out all night
  • coming home looking particularly dishevelled or with unexplained injuries or suspicion of physical assault
  • persistently going missing or being found in areas away from home
  • being secretive about who they are talking to and where they are going
  • meeting with unfamiliar people or associating with a gang
  • becoming isolated from peers and friends
  • having a friendship or relationship with someone who appears older or controlling
  • unexplained absences from school, college, training or work
  • loss of interest in school, college or work and decline in performance
  • sudden changes in lifestyle
  • significant changes in emotional wellbeing
  • increasingly disruptive or aggressive and violent behaviour
  • using sexual, gang, drug-related or violent language you wouldn’t expect them to know
  • starting or increasing drug use, or being found to have large amounts of drugs on them
  • unexplained money, phone(s), clothes or jewellery
  • having hotel cards or keys to unknown places
  • using more than one phone
  • receiving an excessive amount of texts or phone calls
  • carrying a weapon

If you have immediate concerns that your child is not safe please contact the police or social care. 

Alternatively the safeguarding leads at the academy will be able to offer advice or you can seek support from outside agencies by accessing the following links below: