Campaign to tackle exploitation of children by drug gangs

Crimestoppers has launched a national campaign to highlight the issue of county lines and how to recognise and report them.

County lines refers to the trafficking of illegal drugs into suburban, rural and coastal areas, using dedicated mobile phone lines or ‘deal lines’.

Tim Drew

Tim Drew

This often involves the exploitation of children and vulnerable adults as drug runners by organised city-based gangs. The gangs move into a rural or suburban area for a short time, taking over the home of a vulnerable person where they set up a base, known as cuckooing.

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Crimestoppers is using an eye-catching advertising van which will be touring certain areas giving people more information on how they can play their part in helping to tackle this issue. In addition, a social media campaign has also been launched to raise awareness of the problem.

To complement the Crimestoppers campaign, the Home Office is raising awareness of county lines among staff and volunteers, such as those working in the transport and private security sectors, who might encounter young and vulnerable people who are at risk of being exploited by the gangs.

We are being asked to look out for: children or young persons (sometimes as young as 12), in a shopping centre or high street, or on public transport during school hours or unusual hours; children or young persons who seem unfamiliar with the local area; children or young persons being approached or intimidated by a controlling peer or group; children or vulnerable persons who are deliberately avoiding authority figures such as police officers or security guards; more people calling at a local address than normal, sometimes at unsocial hours.

If you notice something concerning either a young or vulnerable person that looks suspicious, you can report your concerns anonymously to Crimestoppers, either by calling 0800 555 111 or sending an untraceable online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org

• For more information about the Worthing & Adur Neighbourhood Watch Associations click here.

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