County Lines & Gang Led Child Drug Trafficking
In American law enforcement, criminals often try and evade capture by crossing ‘county lines‘ and escaping the jurisdiction of the sheriff. The term has been borrowed by the UK city-based gang networks to refer to the extension of drug operations into smaller towns, rural and coastal areas.
County lines, which may also refer to the single phone connection between drug dealers and their mules, is a growing concern both for the communities living in the target destinations and the predominately young drugs carriers being put at risk and sucked into a whirlpool of crime and violence.
As well as reinforcing local drugs problems, county lines also leads to violence as city gangs clash with each other and with local drug dealers.
The Vicious Circle of County Lines Operations
County lines is deeply ingrained into the fabric of the street gang way of life. It begins with the grooming of ‘youngers’ (YGs) by ‘olders’ (OGs). These are usually young teens but could even be primary age children. They are usually lured away from their families with promises of money, sex, expensive clothes and jewellery. They will often meet established gang members after school and during holidays or may play truant.
Many youths from deprived area see drug dealing as the only way of making a life for themselves and escaping the neighbourhood.
Once they have committed themselves to the gang way of life, the youths may be taken away for a number of days or even weeks as they are prepared for going ‘OT’ (out there). They are taught how to store drugs on their bodies to avoid detection and supplied with a ‘burner,’ a disposable mobile phone for drug dealing.
Although cannabis and amphetamines are sometimes dealt, county lines usually focuses on the supply of Class A drugs such as crack and heroin. These are sometimes mixed together in ‘packs’, each with a street value of between £10 and £50.
After they return to their city gang masters, the YGs will usually receive a cut of the proceeds or other rewards. Should they fail to return with the Ps (money) they will be put into debt bondage and are likely to be beaten up or worse.
Once they have become established in the trade, the young drug dealers will groom their own crop of youngers and step back out of the firing line. With a constant supply of new faces coming into the target areas, it can be difficult for the local police forces to collect intelligence, especially where communication with metropolitan police forces is lacking.
Below are some comments made by staff and students from London South East Colleges after the workshop re: feedback forms.
Name one thing that has stood out to you/impacted you about today’s presentation:
“Captivating and relevant, he managed to keep the students interested” Jenna Staff member
“2020 Dreams delivered a really powerful workshop that engaged our young people and enabled them to understand to trappings of gang culture and knife crime. The delivery was a moving and emotional personal story was really hard-hitting and he had a very dramatic and charismatic delivery” Karina, Staff Member
To conclude we feel the workshop was an overall success and had an impact on the students who participated so thank you for providing such a powerful workshop.
Cuckooing: Exploiting the Vulnerable
In order to carry out their drug deals, young gang members need a place to operate from. After travelling OT by public transport, they will often exploit local drug addicts, referred to as ‘nitties,’ by supplying small amounts of drugs in return for accommodation. People with learning difficulties are also prime targets and may even be followed home and ‘cuckooed.’ Once inside, the young gang member might also set up a prostitution ring and exploit local girls and women.
What Happens in a 2020 Dreams County Lines Workshop?
2020 Dreams County Lines Workshops are designed to both raise awareness of the presence of this growing form of criminal activity and to help children and teens to build up resilience against the traffickers.
Our age-appropriate workshops introduce these sensitive themes using proven techniques of engagement. These include role-playing exercises and open forum debates.
Young people attending a workshop will also receive information about how to get help with escaping from gangs.
As experienced national workshop providers, you can be sure that all sessions will be fully risk-assessed and professionally run by our skilled and sensitive moderators.
Getting to Grips With Gangs Publication
‘Getting to Grips with Gangs – A Resource Guide for Teachers, Parents, Young People and the Wider Community’ is a 2020 Rising publication focused on raising awareness about the gang culture in the UK. It looks at the risk factors that lead young people to become involved with gangs; the fashion, structure and behaviour of gangs and the various state and community initiatives that are attempting to tackle the problem.
With children as young as 13 being stabbed, dozens of young men and women losing their lives, violent turf wars springing up over social media insults and county lines drug trafficking spreading out into rural areas, the gang culture in the UK is of deep concern to anyone who cares about the future of our children and the health of our communities.
Before we can tackle the gang problem effectively, we need to understand as much as we can about it. Where do gangs recruit their members? Why do some young people join gangs and others don’t? What do gangs do and how are they structured? What interventions have been shown to reduce gang activity?
The more we understand, the more effective we can be when designing programmes, forming community groups and talking to young people themselves.
‘Getting to Grips with Gangs,’ will equip readers with up to date information, research findings and the details of various anti-gang strategies.
All 2020 Rising publications are also designed to be hands-on and practical. Teachers and parents will find plenty of activities, discussion points and real life case studies (both uplifting and harrowing) to help them to engage with their students and children.
- UK gang fashion
- Working together to tackle gangs
- The impact of poor mental health
- Social interventions
- Initiation and grooming by elders and peers
- Drug trafficking and county lines operations
- Defining a gang
- The 3 R’s of gang life: reputation, respect and retaliation
- The influence of social media, music and gaming
- Joint Enterprise convictions
- Getting out of gangs (for parents and young gang members)
- Community mobilisation
- Suppression tactics: do they work?
- The postcode trap
- Sexual exploitation in UK Gangs
Order Your Copy “Getting To Grips With Gangs” Now for Instant Access ONLY – £17.99 or Hard Copy for £21.99
This in-depth resource is a valuable addition to any gang awareness program you may be running in your school, youth institution or community group. You can download a paid copy here:
To find out more details about workshop content or to make a booking, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0800 4714983.
Life, Crime & Social Survival Workshops to Consider: