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County Lines and Cuckooing

Alert message sent 18/05/2021 13:35:00

Information sent on behalf of Surrey Police

Cuckooing  is when a drug dealer befriends a vulnerable person, taking over their home and turning it into a drugs den.  Your home is supposed to be a safe space and a refuge. But for victims of cuckooing, their home is no longer their own, but a place of danger and exploitation.
We need members of the community to look out for their neighbours. Those at most risk of exploitation include older people, vulnerable adults, drug users, or those living on low income.

Signs to look out for:
- Lots of visitors, who don’t stay very long, arriving at all times of the day and night
- People waiting in cars outside particular properties, exchanging small packets or cash
- Lots of visitors bringing items such as TVs or bikes but leaving empty-handed
- Lone/vulnerable neighbours suddenly having groups of people living at their address
- Possible increase in anti-social behaviour, littering and drug use

If you suspect this is happening in your street, please report it so we can investigate and take action, https://www.surrey.police.uk/ro/report/ocr/af/how-to-report-a-crime/

If you heard someone say they were ‘going country’ or ‘running a line’, would you know what they meant?

These are phrases used to describe ‘county lines’, a name for the process of transporting and supplying illegal drugs across the country. Dedicated mobile phone lines, or ‘deal lines’, are used to receive orders and despatch young people to deliver drugs on behalf of dealers. The phones are usually cheap, disposable and old-fashioned, and are changed regularly to avoid police detection.

Offenders use young people, the vulnerable and the desperate to deliver drugs on their behalf so they can distance themselves from the criminal act of physically dealing. Young people do the majority of work and run the greatest risk of arrest or injury. They are often sent from urban areas into coastal or rural areas, travelling far from home and putting themselves in danger.

The gangs are highly organised criminal networks. Once someone is trapped working for them, they may be exploited in multiple ways, such as sexual exploitation and human trafficking. The lines are valuable commodities to dealers, and are protected with extreme violence and intimidation. There is a strong link between county lines and serious violence such as knife and gun crime, and even the homicide rates. County lines has a devastating impact on both the community and those who are trapped within its cycle.

If you believe you’ve seen signs of drug dealing in your community, please report it.  If you’d rather not speak to police, you can call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 and stay anonymous. They will never ask for your name or trace your call.

In an emergency, always call 999.

Message sent by
Carolyn Anstey (Surrey Police, Office Manager, Runnymede)

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