County Lines: Criminal Exploitation of children and vulnerable adults: County Lines guidance.

In September 2018 the UK Government published guidance entitled: Criminal Exploitation of children and
vulnerable adults: County Lines guidance.

To quote from the guidance itself:

Criminal exploitation of children and vulnerable adults is a geographically widespread form of harm that is a typical feature of county lines activity. It is a harm which is relatively little known about or recognised by those best placed to spot its potential victims.

This guidance is intended to explain the nature of this harm to enable practitioners to recognise its signs and respond appropriately so that potential victims get the support and help they need.

The Children’s Commissioner has estimated that at least 46,000 children in England are involved in gang activity.  The Children’s Society is working to have recognition given to vulnerable children to be recognised as victims of trafficking and exploitation:

Gangs are deliberately targeting vulnerable children – those who are homeless, living in care homes or trapped in poverty. These children are unsafe, unloved, or unable to cope, and the gangs take advantage of this.

These gangs groom, threaten or trick children into trafficking their drugs for them. They might threaten a young person physically, or they might threaten the young person’s family members. The gangs might also offer something in return for the young person’s cooperation – it could be money, food, alcohol, clothes and jewellery, or improved status – but the giving of these gifts will usually be manipulated so that the child feels they are in debt to their exploiter.

However they become trapped in county lines, the young people involved feel as if they have no choice but to continue doing what the gangs want.

The children’s Society website lists the signs of criminal exploitation and county lines as:

  • Returning home late, staying out all night or going missing
  • Being found in areas away from home
  • Increasing drug use, or being found to have large amounts of drugs on them
  • Being secretive about who they are talking to and where they are going
  • Unexplained absences from school, college, training or work
  • Unexplained money, phone(s), clothes or jewellery
  • Increasingly disruptive or aggressive behaviour
  • Using sexual, drug-related or violent language you wouldn’t expect them to know
  • Coming home with injuries or looking particularly dishevelled
  • Having hotel cards or keys to unknown places.

County Lines
We urge any foster carers to view the guidance: here 

The children’s Society Website is: here