County Lines

Criminal exploitation of children and vulnerable adults

What is county lines? County lines is a term used to describe organised crime groups (OCG) who use dedicated mobile phone lines to supply class A drugs from a city into rural areas.

The organised crime groups exploit children, vulnerable adults and disabled people through coercion, intimidation and violence in order to move and store their drugs and money.

An essential part of the organised crime group’s activity is to have an operating base to supply or deal drugs like crack cocaine and heroin.

They will target vulnerable people who may have built up a debt and use threats and violence to force their way into their home and use it as a secure operating base to deal drugs - a term known as ‘cuckooing’.

Signs communities should look out for

  • A child or young person going missing from school or home and travelling to market towns or rural areas
  • Self-harm or a significant change in emotional wellbeing or their behaviour
  • The use of drugs and alcohol
  • Having more money, new expensive clothes or accessories which they are unable to account for
  • Having multiple mobiles, tablets or SIM cars and receiving an excessive amount of texts and calls
  • Forming relationships and meeting with controlling or older people or groups
  • Carrying weapons
  • Significant decline in school results / performance
  • Lone children from outside of the area

More information can be found on the Know and See website.

What is cuckooing?

Cuckooing is when someone you don’t know takes over your home and uses it as a place to sell, supply or store drugs.

Signs communities should look out for

  • People calling at a local address often at unsociable hours
  • Suspicious vehicles or people visiting an address
  • If you have not seen a neighbour for a while

How can you help?

To help protect young and vulnerable people in our communities we need the public to be our eyes and ears by understanding the signs of criminal exploitation and to report it to us.

If something doesn’t feel right and you believe criminal activity is taking place in your community come forward by either: