The Home Office has published updated guidance to help frontline workers identify and protect victims of county lines gangs.
County lines refers to a model used by criminal gangs, whereby urban gangs supply drugs to suburban areas and market and coastal towns. These gangs frequently exploit children and vulnerable adults to courier drugs and money. Some vulnerable adults have their homes taken over by the gangs (cuckooing) using force or coercion.
To support policing and other statutory frontline staff - particularly those who work with children, young people and vulnerable adults - in identifying potential victims of this type of criminal exploitation, the Home Office has updated its County Lines guidance. It sets out the signs to look for in potential victims, and what action staff should take so that potential victims get the support and help they need. The document supplements an organisation's existing safeguarding policies. View the guidance on the Gov.uk website.
Alongside the guidance, there are resources to help policing and statutory staff recognise the signs to look out for, that could indicate that someone is a victim of county lines gangs.
The Home Office is also raising awareness of county lines across a range of non-statutory sectors. These are:
- private security sector
- licensed taxi and private hire company staff
- Bus and coach company staff
- train operating company staff
- private landlords and letting agents
Materials for the social housing sector are currently being developed and will be available shortly. Finally, they have also produced social media assets which we encourage PCCs to use in their own public-facing county lines awareness raising work.
Police and Crime Commissioners are encouraged to highlight these materials both to their force, as well as local stakeholders, to raise awareness of county lines and how to spot potential victims.