What are county lines?
County lines is a phrase that you may have heard on the TV or read in newspapers but what actually are county lines and why do you need to know about them?
County lines are phone numbers which people call and arrange to get their drugs from the dealers. Frequently these deals are made online too via social media websites. The drugs are moved from cities usually by young people out to the ‘counties’ and seaside resorts. The young people then often stay away from home in ‘trap’ houses selling and supplying the drugs.
Trap houses are flats or house often owned by vulnerable adults. The drug dealers befriend them, then take over the property using it for dealing and staying there without the permission of the resident who is too frightened to tell anyone. This is called ‘cuckooing’.
The phone number is passed out by the dealers when they arrive in a new location, offering free tasters and special deals to build up custom and they often recruit local young people to supply the drugs to customers.
Young people are recruited by drug dealers, often in gangs, and are groomed from an early age, as young as 10 or 11 years old. The grooming starts with friendship, presents or money. The gang encourage a sense of belonging and’ family’ so it is harder to say no to requests for fear of ostracization from the gang. Often it seems as glamourous and a ‘status’ to be in the gang. This is perpetuated with the online videos and music which make it seem exciting, fashionable and ‘easy money’. In truth, this is a cover for horrific abuse, degradation and exploitation.
Young people are often sent ‘out county’ to deliver and sell drugs. This makes them incredibly vulnerable to abuse and violence. Once recruited into the gang its extremely hard to leave and children and young people are frightened by the extreme violence, threatened by the gangs towards themselves and their families if they try to stop dealing the drugs and leave the gang.
If you work with children or young people you need to know about county lines and be taking action to educate them and their families about the dangers of county lines. Many people think it is an inner-city problem, but it affects children and young people in towns everywhere.
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