Crimestoppers have launched a new campaign to combat the exploitation of children and vulnerable people by criminal gangs through County Lines.
The campaign covers signs to spot and what to do if you have information about possible County Lines activity. It has four key aims: Educate; Solve; Support and Prevent.
County Lines is a term used for organised illegal drug-dealing networks. Serious organised criminals, often from big cities, recruit vulnerable children and adults as ‘runners’ to transport drugs, weapons and cash.
Criminal gangs establish a base in a particular location, sometimes by taking over the homes of local vulnerable adults by force or coercion in a practice referred to as ‘cuckooing’. They then target vulnerable local children and adults to become involved in selling drugs through a process of grooming. Once someone is involved with a criminal gang, it becomes difficult for them to escape.
The Children’s Commissioner for England believes that at least 27,000 children are County Lines gang members, with 4,000 in London alone.
Solving barriers to reporting concerns to relevant authorities
One of the biggest issues to overcome is that the public can be worried about being identified when they report concerns to the Police or other local organisations, they might be fearful of repercussions. In Newcastle, you can report any concerns about County Lines to Northumbria Police, but if you want to do this 100% anonymously, you can tell Crimestoppers.
You can speak to the Crimestoppers Contact Centre on 0800 555 111 or use their non-traceable online form. You will remain 100% anonymous. Always. You will never be asked for your name, and your phone call or online report will never be traced.
You can find out more about the Crimestoppers campaign here: https://crimestoppers-uk.org/keeping-safe/community-family/county-lines
The following resource is for use by people who work or volunteer in Newcastle and who might come across exploitation concerns.