The Home Office have published revised guidance for frontline staff who work with children, young people and potentially vulnerable adults. The guidance is intended to explain the nature of criminal exploitation and to enable practitioners to recognise the signs and respond appropriately so that potential victims get the support and help they need.
The guide explains that county lines is the police term for urban gangs supplying drugs to suburban areas and market and coastal towns using dedicated mobile phone lines. It involves child criminal exploitation (CCE) as gangs use children and vulnerable people to move drugs and money around the country. The guides includes a flowchart to signpost professionals working with children at risk of exploitation:
The full scale of the county lines phenomenon has only recently started to emerge. There is still work to do to ensure that these children are recognised as as the victims they are rather than simply as the perpetrators of crime. Lawyers representing children who may have been exploited should consult YJLC’s Guide to Modern Slavery and County Lines.