County lines refers to a model used by criminal gangs, whereby urban gangs supply drugs to suburban areas, market and coastal towns.  These gangs frequently exploit children and vulnerable adults to courier drugs and money.  Some vulnerable adults have their homes taken over by then gangs (cuckooing) using force or coercion.  

To support policing and other statutory frontline staff – particularly those who work with children, young people and vulnerable adults – in identifying potential victims of this type of criminal exploitation, the Home Office has updated its County Lines guidance. It sets out the signs to look for in potential victims, and what action staff should take so that potential victims get the support and help they need. The document supplements an organisation’s existing safeguarding policies. The access the guidance, please click here

Alongside the guidance, there are resources which can be accessed here to help policing and statutory staff recognise the signs to look out for, that could indicate that someone is a victim of county lines gangs.

The Home Office is also raising awareness of county lines across a range of non-statutory sectors. These are:

Materials for the social housing sector are currently being developed and will be available shortly.  

Please refer to the Interagency procedures on the safeguarding website for further details about county lines and criminal exploitation.  

 Did you know? County lines drug dealer, 21 is the first to be jailed under new modern slavery laws - read the article here for more information.


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