Crimestoppers launches campaign to raise awareness of ‘County Lines’

Crimestoppers has launched a national campaign to highlight the issue of organized criminals travelling across County Lines to deal drugs.

To help the public understand what ‘county lines’ is and encourage reporting to Crimestoppers an eye-catching advan 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 by the charity to raise awareness of the crime.

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

County lines refers to gangs and organised criminal networks which export illegal drugs into suburban, rural and coastal areas, using dedicated mobile phone lines or “deal lines.” The crime sees County Lines gangs exploit children and vulnerable adults to move drugs and money. 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.

Many of those taken advantage of by these gangs have been forced to carry out criminal activity by threats, grooming and extortion and can be described as modern day slaves.

Spot the signs and report concerns

Have you noticed:
• A child or young person (sometimes as young as 12), during school hours or unusual hours (e.g. early in the morning, late at night)? They might be in a shopping centre or high street, or on public transport.
• A child or young person who seems unfamiliar with the local area?
• A child or young person being approached or intimidated by a controlling peer or group?
• A child or vulnerable person who is deliberately avoiding authority figures such as police officers or security guards?
• More people calling at a local address than normal? Sometimes at unsociable hours?
• Suspicious vehicles or people at an address?
• A neighbour has not been seen for a while?

If you see something concerning either a young or vulnerable person that doesn’t feel right, or looks suspicious, you can report your concerns 100% anonymously to the charity Crimestoppers. You can call 0800 555 111 or send an untraceable online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org.

Speaking about the campaign, Emily van der Lely, Crimestoppers lead on County Lines, said: “We know that the term ‘County Lines’ might not be widely recognised, which is why we are launching this campaign and asking for your help to support us in tackling this issue.

“We need help to put a stop to this exploitation and the damage that these criminals are inflicting on our communities and those being taken advantage of.

“We are asking you to contact us anonymously and safely through our 0800 555 111 number, or via our secure online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org – both methods are 100% anonymous. Always. Together we can put a stop to this.”

John Hayward-Cripps, Neighbourhood Watch Network CEO, added “The community play an important role in identifying and disrupting this type of crime, that can otherwise go undetected. Reporting any unusual activity that raises concerns through Crimestoppers or any other crime prevention channel is something we fully encourage.”