County lines is the police term for urban gangs supplying drugs to suburban areas and market and coastal towns. It involves child criminal exploitation (CCE) as gangs use children and vulnerable people to move drugs and money. County lines is a major, cross-cutting issue involving drugs, violence, gangs, safeguarding, criminal and sexual exploitation, modern slavery, and missing persons; and the response to tackle it involves the police, the National Crime Agency, a wide range of Government departments, local government agencies and VCS (voluntary and community sector) organisations.
Following the publication of County Lines guidance last year, the Home Office is now working with partners to raise awareness of county lines. A range of materials have been developed to help statutory and non-statutory staff identify victims and report concerns to protect those exploited through this criminal activity; the BSCB will be promoting these materials. Leaflets can be found on our website here, and you can read the full Home Office guidance here. These materials provide information on signs to look out for, and the steps you should follow.
County lines activity and the associated violence, drug dealing and exploitation has a devastating impact on young people, vulnerable adults and local communities. Any practitioner working with a vulnerable person who they think may be at risk of county lines exploitation should follow their local safeguarding guidance and share this information with local authority social care services. If you believe a person is in immediate risk of harm, you should contact the police. This is a major safeguarding issue, and both child and adult practitioners should be aware of the signs.