Next week the students will all receive age appropriate assemblies to inform them about the dangers of ‘County Lines’. This is something that has been increasingly in the news, and whilst we have not had any reported incidents of it at the College, it is important that both the students and yourselves are well informed. Please use the information below to discuss the issue with your child over the coming week, and as always if you have any concerns regarding this or any other safeguarding matter contact a member of our College safeguarding team by telephone or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
What are county lines?
County lines is the organised criminal distribution of drugs from the big cities into smaller towns and rural areas using children and vulnerable people. Although cannabis is occasionally linked to the county lines organisations, it is harder drugs that provide the focus: heroin, cocaine, and amphetamines. The main county line gangs operate from London and Liverpool, but other groups work out of Reading, Birmingham, and Manchester. Faces from the cities are not known by police in the quieter areas and can operate more easily. At least for a time.
The influence of county lines is nationwide. Metropolitan Police have found gang members from Islington in 14 different police areas. Boys, typically 15 and 16, but sometimes younger, travel by coach, train and taxi into rural or coastal area, with only a ‘burner’ or disposable phone, often stolen, and a stash of drugs. For the gang’s security each runner only knows one other phone number along the delivery chain. The drug runner needs a place to stay and to do this the gang will take over the home of a vulnerable person, often after following them home. This is known as “cuckooing”. Once in the property, drugs and weapons can be stored there along with a possible venue for dealing drugs and the sexual exploitation of girls and young women.
Signs to be watchful of in children, teenagers and vulnerable members of the community
• Do they have unexpected house guests especially in vulnerable families?
• Are there unexplained absences or tardiness previously not seen?
• Are they discussing older boyfriends or having friendships with people who are visiting the area?
• Are they travelling alone to places far away from home?
• Do they suddenly have lots of money/lots of new clothes/new mobile phones?
• Are they receiving more calls or texts than usual?
• Are they carrying or selling drugs or are they carrying weapons or know people that have access to weapons?
• Are they in a relationship with, or hanging out with, someone/people that are older and controlling?
• Do they have unexplained injuries, do they seem very reserved or seem like they have something to hide?
• Do they seem scared or are they self-harming?
Further information can be found by watching a short video at the following link: https://www.safeguardinginschools.co.uk/county-lines/ or at https://www.fearless.org/en/campaigns/county-lines