County lines is a form of criminal exploitation where urban gangs persuade, coerce or force children and young people to store drugs and money and/or transport them to suburban areas, market towns and coastal towns (Home Office, 2018). It can happen in any part of the UK and is against the law and a form of child abuse.
Children can be vulnerable to manipulation and exploitation for a wide range of factors from living in poverty to a desire to earn “street cred” amongst their peers. It can also be carried out under the threat of severe violence or intimidation. Typically, gangs use mobile phone lines to facilitate drug orders and supply the users. They also use local property as a base; these often belong to a vulnerable adult and are obtained through force or coercion (known as ‘cuckooing’).
Signs and signals of County Lines or other forms of criminal exploitation include:
If parents suspect a boy or girl is involved in County Lines or other gang activities, they should report this as a child protection issue to a member of the designated safeguarding team:
Mrs Acres, Mrs Vass, Mrs Weatherby or Miss Simpson can be contacted through the school office
Alternatively, parents can report concerns directly to the Police or to the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) via Stronger families , Hillingdon.
Members of the public should report County Lines or related concerns to the police or to MASH, via Stronger Families, Hillingdon.