County Lines Drug Trade: The Precursor to Knife Crime

You’ve heard the term but what does “county lines” actually refer to? Basically, when drug gangs from large cities and towns grow their operations to nearby smaller towns, this is referred to as “county lines drug trade.” The National Crime Agency warns that the unscrupulous drug dealers commonly employ children in their operations. Moreover, to subdue competition from smaller local drug dealers, they will readily resort to violence. Vulnerable youths from disadvantaged backgrounds are targeted and lured by the drug gangs to do their dirty work. From peddling drugs, to conducting violence against rivals, the unscrupulous drug dealers stop at nothing.

The exploitation of young and vulnerable people is a common feature of county lines drug supply. In order to elude law enforcement, drug dealers will force their victims to deliver drugs and collect payment. Worryingly, dealers may even takeover their victim’s property and use it as a base of their drug dealing operation. The risks posed by this dangerous form of exploitation expose the young and vulnerable victims to physical, mental and sexual abuse. Often, victims are unable to see themselves as such or realise they have been groomed. Remedial action requires a multi-faceted approach which considers victims’ family, personal, mental and social problems.

The National Crime Agency has published a list of tell-tale signs that a county lines drug operation is taking place near you:

– Increased visitors to a house or flat

– New faces at the house or flat

– New and changing residents with differing accents

– A neighbour becoming secretive, withdrawn or aggressive

– Drug use and drug paraphernalia

– Changes in a young person’s dress

– Young person possessing unexplained expensive items, such as clothes, jewellery, cars

– Young people with unknown adults

– Anti-social behaviour

– Truancy, exclusion and disengagement from school