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Child criminal exploitation and county lines

What is child criminal exploitation?

Child criminal exploitation takes place where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, control, manipulate, or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18. Criminal exploitation is child abuse, where children and young people are manipulated/coerced into committing crimes.

The victim may have been criminally exploited even if the activity appears consensual. 

Child criminal exploitation does not always involved physical contact. It can also occur through the use of technology. 

What are county lines?

County lines are where illegal drugs are transported from one area to another, often across police and local authority boundaries, usually by children or vulnerable people who are coerced. The 'county line' is the mobile phone line used to take the orders of drugs.

Areas where drugs are 'imported' report an increase in the levels of violence and weapons-related crimes as a result. 

Are you or someone you know at risk?

You can report a crime anonymously using Crimestoppers. by calling:

0800 555 111

If you're worried about a child, you can contact the NSPCC helpline by calling:

0808 800 5000

or e-mail: help@nspcc.org.uk.

The best advice is to trust your instincts. Even if someone isn't involved in county lines drug dealing, they may be being exploited in some other way, so it's always worth speaking out.

If you notice something linked to the railways, you can report concerns to the British Transport Police by texting 61016 from your mobile. 

I'm worried I may be involved, or my friend is involved in county lines.

A good option is to speak to an adult you trust and talk to them about your concerns.

You can also call Childline on 0800 1111. Childline is private and confidential service where you can talk to specially trained counsellors about anything that is worrying you.

Alternatively, speak to a children and young people's service like Catch 22. They work with children and young people of any age to help get them out of situations they're worried about, and have helped lots of children and young people involved in County Lines.

Working in partnership with other agencies, St Giles offers specialist services to help young people make a safe and sustained exit from county line involvement. Caseworkers offer both practical and emotional support to the young person and their family to help address any issue which might be driving county line involvement.

Further advice and guidance: