Crimestoppers has launched a national campaign orchestrated to highlight ‘County Lines’ and encourage the public to report their concerns. An ‘advan’ will be touring certain areas giving people more information on how they can play their part in helping to tackle this issue. In addition, a social media campaign has also been launched by the charity in order to raise awareness of the crime.
To complement the Crimestoppers campaign, the Home Office is raising awareness of ‘County Lines’ among those staff who might encounter young and vulnerable people who are at risk of being exploited by dedicated ‘County Lines’ gangs, such as statutory staff and those working in the transport and private security sectors.
‘County Lines’ refers to gangs and organised criminal networks which export illegal drugs into suburban, rural and coastal areas, using dedicated mobile phone lines or “deal lines”. The crime sees ‘County Lines’ gangs exploit children and vulnerable adults to move drugs and money. The gangs move into a rural or suburban area for a short time, taking over the home of a vulnerable person where they set up a base.
Many of those taken advantage of by these gangs have been forced to carry out criminal activity as a result of threats, grooming and extortion and can be described as modern day slaves.
Spot the signs and report concerns
Of late, have either you or any of your colleagues noticed:
*a child or young person (sometimes as young as 12) during school hours or unusual hours (eg early in the morning or late at night)? They might be in a Shopping Centre or on a High Street, or perhaps on public transport
*achild or young person who seems unfamiliar with the local area?
*a child or young person being approached or intimidated by a controlling peer or group?
*a child or vulnerable person who’s deliberately avoiding authority figures such as police officers or security officers
*more people calling at a local address than normal, and sometimes at unsociable hours?
*suspicious vehicles or people at an address?
*a neighbour who hasn’t been seen for a while?
If you see something concerning either a young or vulnerable person that doesn’t feel right, or otherwise appears suspicious, you can report your concerns 100% anonymously to the charity Crimestoppers. Call 0800 555 111 or send an untraceable online form.
Emily van der Lely, Crimestoppers’ lead on ‘County Lines’, stated: “We know full well that the term ‘County Lines’ might not be widely recognised, which is why we’re launching this campaign and asking for your help to support us in tackling this issue. We need assistance to put a stop to this exploitation and the damage that these criminals are inflicting on our communities and those who are being taken advantage of.”
In conclusion, vad der Lely urged: “We are asking you to contact us anonymously and safely through our 0800 555 111 number, or via our secure online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org Both methods are 100% anonymous. Always. Together, we can put a stop to this form of criminality and exploitation.”