County Lines Drugs Gangs
"County Lines" drug dealing
“County Lines” is the term used to describe a form of organised crime where criminals based in urban areas pressurise vulnerable people and children to transport, store and sell drugs in smaller county towns. It takes its name from the phone lines used by organised crime gangs to communicate between towns.
An issue of concern across East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire is the practice of “cuckooing” where county lines drug dealers take over a vulnerable person’s home to store their drugs and cash and use it as base for dealing drugs.
This usually involves identifying vulnerable people such as drug addicts, or people who are vulnerable due to mental or physical health impairments, single mothers, female sex workers as well as young people. The dealers then coerce, and sometimes threaten the vulnerable person into allowing them to take control of their home so they can use it to store and sell drugs.
They usually stay in a property for a short time before moving on to new premises.
The victims of cuckooing tend to live in social housing and the dealers will either stay in the property to deal drugs themselves, or will get the householder to deal on their behalf, travelling back and forth to their home areas to restock.
Some of the dealers are criminals by choice and some have been coerced and exploited by organised criminals to work for them.
The signs to look out for include:
- Increased callers at a property
- Increase in cars pulling up for short periods of time
- Different accents at a property
- Increased antisocial behaviour at a property
- Not seeing the resident for long periods of time
- Unfamiliar vehicles at the property
- Windows covered or curtains closed for long periods
DO NOT approach anyone you suspect is involved in drug dealing. Please report it to the police on 101, or to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. If a person is in immediate danger, always call 999.
Child Criminal Exploitation
Similar to child sexual exploitation, any young person could be at risk of being targeted by drug gangs, but some are particularly susceptible including those without a stable home life, who’ve experienced domestic violence, parental drug abuse or criminality, social isolation or exclusion, homelessness or insecure accommodation, learning or physical disability, mental health problems, associations with criminality or being in care, particularly a disrupted history of care.
Gangs are increasingly using social media to recruit children who aren’t typically vulnerable, so everyone needs to be alert to the following signs:
- Persistently going missing from school or home and / or being found out-of-area;
- Unexplained money, clothes, or mobile phones
- Excessive receipt of texts / phone calls
- Relationships with controlling / older individuals or groups
- Leaving home / care without explanation
- Suspicion of physical assault / unexplained injuries
- Carrying weapons
- Significant decline in school results / performance
- Gang association or isolation from peers or social networks
- Self-harm or significant changes in emotional well-being
If you suspect a child you care for or know is being exploited, please call the police on 101, if they are in immediate danger, always call 999. You can also report anonymously by calling CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.
I'm involved in county lines - Where can I get help?
If you’re a young person and you think you’re being exploited to sell drugs help is available 24/7. You should call the police on 101 or visit www.fearless.org.uk where you can report anonymously. If you are in immediate danger always call 999.
You can find out more about county lines at Not In Our Community.
Support is also available 24/7 at the NSPCC.