The community in Sedgemoor are urged to know the signs of ‘County Lines’ in a bid to stop illegal drug related criminal activity operating in their area. Safer Somerset Partnership sets out what County Lines are, the signs to look out for and how to contact Crimestoppers if you believe County Lines are operating in your area. A county wide campaign was launched last autumn to raise awareness and report suspicious behaviour.
County Lines is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks who export illegal drugs from one area (usually a city) into another (usually a more rural county) within the UK by using dedicated mobile phone lines or another form of “deal line”. The criminal gangs often exploit children and vulnerable adults to move and store drugs and money, and will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) and weapons.
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
The campaign will now focus on individual communities across Somerset to raise awareness about County Lines among frontline staff, like teachers, and health workers, who are most likely to encounter vulnerable young individuals who are at maximum risk of exploitation. If you have information that will help the police investigate this crime, and wish to remain anonymous, contact www.crimestoppers-uk.org online or call 0800 555111.