What is County Lines?


Heard of County Lines? But what is it?

• It involves criminal networks using phone lines 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.

• The line allows drug dealers to move their business from location to another – not necessarily from a city to a coastal town. Many counties across the UK now have both importation and exportation issues linked to county lines.

• Violence inherent to the county lines model includes: 
o conflict between competing drugs supply networks to establish control of markets;
o violence used to control children acting as couriers and dealers;
o violence used to take over properties to deal from (usually occupied by vulnerable people – known as cuckooing); and
o the sexual exploitation of women and girls who incur drugs debts, or are the partners of males who are subject to drug networks

• County lines drugs dealing requires exploitation of the vulnerable, including children and those with mental health or addiction problems, at all points of their drug supply routes.

• However, it’s not only children who are obviously vulnerable – for instance those in care - are groomed for county lines. Albeit relatively rarely, UK investigations have encountered children from what people might perceive to be more stable or more affluent backgrounds who have been groomed for county lines dealing

• Members of the public can help: - the best advice is to trust your instincts – if somebody shows signs of mistreatment, or a child seems to be travelling long distances or is unfamiliar with a locality, you can report suspicions to local police on 101 or BTP if on the transport network.