Child Criminal Exploitation
County Lines is where illegal drugs are transported from one area to another, often across police and local authority boundaries (although not exclusively), usually by children or vulnerable people who are coerced into it by gangs. The ‘County Line’ is the mobile phone line used to take the orders of drugs. Importing areas (areas where the drugs are taken to) are reporting increased levels of violence and weapons-related crimes as a result of this trend.
NPCC definition of a County Line
The 2018 Home Office Serious Crime Strategy states the NPCC definition of a County Line is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more importing areas [within the UK], using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of “deal line”. They are likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults to move [and store] the drugs and money and they will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) and weapons.
Exploitation of young and vulnerable people
A common feature in county lines drug supply is the exploitation of young and vulnerable people. The dealers will frequently target children and adults – often with mental health or addiction problems – to act as drug runners or move cash so they can stay under the radar of law enforcement.
In some cases the dealers will take over a local property, normally belonging to a vulnerable person, and use it to operate their criminal activity from. This is known as cuckooing.
People exploited in this way will quite often be exposed to physical, mental and sexual abuse, and in some instances will be trafficked to areas a long way from home as part of the network’s drug dealing business.
As we have seen in child sexual exploitation, children often don’t see themselves as victims or realise they have been groomed to get involved in criminality. So it’s important that we all play our part to understand county lines and speak out if we have concerns.
How do you know if County Lines drug dealing is happening in your area?
Some signs to look out for include:
- An increase in visitors and cars to a house or flat
- New faces appearing at the house or flat
- New and regularly changing residents (e.g different accents compared to local accent
- Change in resident’s mood and/or demeanour (e.g. secretive/ withdrawn/ aggressive/ emotional)
- Substance misuse and/or drug paraphernalia
- Changes in the way young people you might know the dress
- Unexplained, sometimes unaffordable new things (e.g clothes, jewellery, cars etc)
- Residents or young people you know going missing, maybe for long periods of time
- Young people seen in different cars/taxis driven by unknown adults
- Young people seeming unfamiliar with your community or where they are
- Truancy, exclusion, disengagement from school
- An increase in anti-social behaviour in the community
- Unexplained injuries
What to do if you have concerns?
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.
You can speak to your local police by dialling 101, or in an emergency 999.
If you notice something linked to the railways, you can report concerns to the British Transport Police by texting 61016 from your mobile. In an emergency dial 999.
If you are a young person who is worried about your involvement, or a friend’s involvement 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.
Law enforcement response
Tackling county lines, and the supply gangs responsible for high levels of violence, exploitation and abuse of vulnerable adults and children, is a priority for UK law enforcement.
Law enforcement collectively has been stepping up its response, working to identify and take effective action in areas of the country with the most significant problems.
To enhance the law enforcement response still further, a multi-agency county lines coordination centre has been established, bringing together officers from the NCA, police and regional organised crime units to develop the national intelligence picture, prioritise action against the most serious offenders, and engage with partners across government, including in the health, welfare and education spheres, to tackle the wider issues.
In addition to helping the NCA and policing partners to work together more effectively and deliver a more comprehensive response to the county lines threat, the centre will assist the development of a whole-system, multi-agency approach which is vital to ensuring that vulnerable people are identified and safeguarded, understanding factors behind demand for drugs, and recovering proceeds of crime.
Do staff receive adequate training?
All staff, volunteers and governors undertake annual training so they are aware of school protocol, policies and procedures. This means staff know what to look out for to spot and recognise signs of abuse. Listening is an important skill in order to keep children safe and staff are able to listen carefully. Regular refresher training, helps staff to keep up to date with the latest information. As a supportive community, children know to share any concerns with staff. Parents and carers are welcome to read our policy, which is available on our website or via the school office.
Does KPS share information with other professionals?
The best interests of the children will always be our priority. As such, there are times we will need to record, monitor and share information with other agencies, such as Social Care or the police. We will share concerns about our pupils with the child’s parents/carers unless we have reason to believe that such a move would not be in the child’s best interest.
What should I do if I am worried?
If you are concerned about a child’s welfare, please record your concern, and any observations or conversations heard, and report to one of the Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSL) as soon as possible the same day. Do NOT conduct your own investigation.
Who is in the Safeguarding Team?
What should I do if I am worried about a member of staff?
If your concerns relate to the actions or behaviour of a member of staff then you should report this to Pavin Dhaliwal, Headteacher.
If the concern relates to the Headteacher, concerns should be reported to Gurminder Singh or Jujhar Singh, co-chairs of the Trust.
If you are still concerned, further advice is available from:
NSPCC Helpline: 0808 800 5000
Childline: 0800 1111
Slough Emergency Team: 01753 875362
Mental Health and Wellbeing
Welcome to our new Mental Health and Wellbeing (MHWB) page. We consider the emotional health and wellbeing of our children, staff and parents to be of paramount importance. As a result, we have set up an area dedicated entirely to this worthwhile cause.
Who can I get help from?
We all have bad days, and need someone to talk to. Friends, family and teachers are great to talk to when feeling worried, stressed or even when you just want to talk to someone. At Khalsa Primary school we are committed to help and support your well-being; we as a listening ear are there for you!
Parents and Carers also play a vital role in ensuring that their child’s mental health and wellbeing needs are met. If you’re feeling sad, angry, worried and want to talk about it or just have someone listen to you without any judgment-keep us informed of any specific needs or any support required, we can help.
On this page you will find links and information covering a wide range of MHWB topics and we hope you find them to be useful.
There are many charities and organisations working in the field of mental health which could provide you with support and you can access a range of issues.