County Lines is the name given to drug dealing where organised crime groups (OCGs) use phone lines to move and supply drugs, usually from cities into smaller towns and rural areas.
They exploit vulnerable people, including children and those with mental health or addiction issues, by recruiting them to distribute the drugs, often referred to as ‘drug running’.
OCGs often use high levels of violence and intimidation to protect the ‘county line’ and control vulnerable people within their grasp.
There are several signs to look out for that may indicate someone is involved in County Lines:
- A child or young person going missing from school or home, and being found in other areas.
- Unexplained money, new clothes or electronic devices.
- Receiving high numbers of texts or phone calls, being secretive about who they’re speaking to.
- Relationships with controlling or older individuals or associations with gangs.
- Significant changes in emotional or physical wellbeing.
- Suspicion of self-harm, physical assault or unexplained injuries.
Drug dealers often entice vulnerable person into allowing their home to be used for drug dealing by giving them free drugs or offering to pay for food or utilities.
These OCGs are very selective about who they target as “cuckoo” victims. Often people they target are lonely, isolated, or frequent drug users themselves.
The OCGs often operate from a property for a short amount of time, frequently moving addresses in order to reduce the chance of being caught.
Signs to look out for
There are several signs to look out for that may indicate someone is a victim of cuckooing:
- Frequent visitors at unsociable hours.
- Changes in your neighbour’s daily routine.
- Unusual smells coming from a property.
- Suspicious or unfamiliar vehicles outside an address.
- Unknown or suspicious looking characters coming and going from a neighbour’s house.
If you’re concerned about drug-related crime in your area or think someone may be a victim of drug exploitation, you can report in the following ways: