Criminal Exploitation of Children – Threat of “County Lines”


The threat of county lines in respect to school children remains. The term county lines refers to urban gangs supplying drugs to suburban areas, as well as market and coastal towns, by using dedicated mobile phone lines or “deal lines”. Gangs use children and vulnerable people to move drugs and money to these areas. Once caught up in county lines, exploited individuals are at risk of extreme physical and/or sexual violence, gang recriminations and trafficking.

As part of the Serious Violence Strategy, the Home Office is helping to raise awareness of county lines among frontline staff including teachers, health workers and those who work in the transport, housing and security sectors. These people are most likely to encounter individuals at risk. This will help staff spot potential victims and report concerns in order to safeguard our young people more effectively.

A young person who is involved in county lines activity might show some of these signs:

· persistently going missing from school or home, or being found out-of-area

· unexplained acquisition of money, clothes or mobile phones

· excessive receipt of texts or phone calls

· relationships with controlling, older individuals or gang association

· parental concerns, and leaving home or care without explanation

· suspicion of self-harm, physical assault or unexplained injuries

· significant decline in school performance and changes in emotional well-being

Below you will find the government guidance on county lines. If you have any concerns about your child being at risk of criminal exploitation, contact the Designated Safeguarding Lead at school for further guidance and support.

Criminal exploitation of children and vulnerable adults: county lines – GOV.UK ( (