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Working together to safeguard children from County Lines criminal gangs

Alert message sent 28/02/2020 10:29:00

Information sent on behalf of Staffordshire Police

Working alongside Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Staffordshire County Council, particularly Children’s Services, the operation has two aims – to arrest members of organised crime gangs who target young and vulnerable people, but also to identify young people who are at risk of criminality and to help divert them away from criminal exploitation.
It also involves educating children and highlighting the dangers and consequences of being involved in gang culture, violence or drugs.
County lines is a way to describe a specific type of criminal exploitation – this is where gangs and organised crime networks exploit children to sell drugs. They are often forced to travel to different counties, and they use dedicated mobile phone lines of ‘deal lines’ to sell these drugs.
Gangs deliberately target children – some as young as 12 – and these children are often groomed, deceived or threatened into carrying and selling drugs for them.
Dealers typically use a single phone line to facilitate the supply of Class A drugs – frequently heroin and crack cocaine - to customers. The line becomes a valuable brand and is protected with violence and intimidation.

Common signs to look out for which could indicate that a person is involved in county lines and possible drug dealing: 
  • Change in emotional wellbeing (e.g. secretive, withdrawn, aggressive, emotional)
  • An increase in anti-social behaviour
  • Missing episodes from home or school
  • Receiving more texts or calls than usual
  • Substance misuse and/or drug paraphernalia
  • Unexplained, sometimes unaffordable new things (e.g clothes, jewellery, cash)
  • Isolation from peers
  • May be carrying a weapon
  • Unexplained injuries
  • The following signs suggest that someone could be a victim of cuckooing:
  • An increase in anti-social behaviour
  • Other people seen inside the house or flat who don’t normally live there
  • People coming and going from the property at all hours
  • More taxis and cars than usual appearing at the property
  • Not seeing the person who lives there as frequently
  • When you do see the occupant, they may appear anxious or distracted
If you have information about drug dealing in your area there are options available for reporting.  You can call us on 101 or 999 in an emergency or go to where you can report anonymously.
Message sent by
Lydia Hooley (Police, Officer, Staffordshire)

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