County Lines is the name given to criminal networks from big cities such as London and Manchester expanding their activities into smaller towns and rural areas such as Wiltshire.

Dealers typically use a single phone line to facilitate the supply of class A drugs -frequently heroin and crack cocaine - to customers. The line becomes a valuable brand and is protected with violence and intimidation

Vulnerable people, including children and those with mental health or addiction problems, are used to supply, deal and store dangerous drugs. Children as young as 12 and up to 17 years old are recruited, often using social media and the promises of cash, status and expensive items. 

This is a problem that affects children from all backgrounds.

Investigations have encountered children from what people might perceive to be more stable or more affluent backgrounds who have been groomed for county lines dealing or running.   

They are being physically, mentally and sexually abused and forced to travel long distances from home to deal drugs. Often they don't see themselves as victims, they are flattered by the attention and gifts they receive however this situation won't last and is grooming designed to make the person want to please. The consequences when they inevitably fail to deliver can be devastating.

Children have been found starved, dirty, injured and scared. The trauma of these experiences must stay with them and we, as a community, must do what we can to help prevent more children suffering.

The most important thing that you can do for vulnerable adults or children is to be aware of the signs to look out for and take action by contacting us if you see them.

Common signs to look out for:

 

Cuckooing

Vulnerable adults in the community are also being targeted and their homes taken over as bases to stash and deal drugs. Known as 'drug dens' 'crack houses' 'trap houses' or 'cuckooed' properties. The occupant is effectively just a host for the strangers who knock on the door at any hour, only useful as long as the property doesn't come to police notice.

Along with trap houses and cuckooed properties comes increased violence and crime. Behind the scenes is a long line of vulnerable, exploited children and adults.

Common signs to look out for:

Even if you are not 100% sure please contact us with any information as it may mean another child or vulnerable person can be saved from a life of violence and fear.

If you have information about drug dealing in your area there are options available for reporting. You can call us on 101 or 999 in an emergency.  Or report online on www.wiltshire.police.uk where you can report anonymously.

Call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or the young people's website Fearless.org.

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