County lines is a form of criminal exploitation where urban gangs persuade, coerce or force children and young people to store drugs and money and/or transport them to suburban areas, market towns and coastal towns (Home Office, 2018). It can happen in any part of the UK and is against the law and a form of child abuse.
Children and young people may be criminally exploited in multiple ways. Other forms of criminal exploitation include child sexual exploitation, trafficking, gang and knife crime.
County lines gangs are highly organised criminal networks that use sophisticated, frequently evolving techniques to groom young people and evade capture by the police. Such gangs operate throughout the country, including in our local area.
If you are concerned that a child is being criminally or sexually exploited, YOU MUST REPORT IT.
The Buckinghashire Safeguarding Children Partnership has a tool to help you identify and information on how to report suspected exploitation: https://www.buckssafeguarding.org.uk/childrenpartnership/professionals/exploitation/child-exploitation/
It is important that we all familiarise ourselves with the signs that a young person may be involved in criminal exploitation and understand the response and reporting procedures available.