How many young people are affected by 'county lines'?
No one really knows how many young people across the country are being forced to take part, but The Children’s Commissioner estimates there are at least 46,000 children in England who are involved in gang activity. It is estimated that around 4,000 teenagers in London alone are being exploited through child criminal exploitation, or 'county lines'.
Tragically the young people exploited through 'county lines' can often be seen by professionals as criminals.
However, we want these vulnerable children to be recognised as victims of trafficking and exploitation. We want them to receive the support they need to deal with the trauma they have been through.
These gangs groom, threaten or trick children into trafficking their drugs for them. They might threaten a young person physically, or they might threaten the young person’s family members. The gangs might also offer something in return for the young person’s cooperation – it could be money, food, alcohol, clothes and jewellery, or improved status – but the giving of these gifts will usually be manipulated so that the child feels they are in debt to their exploiter.
However they become trapped in county lines, the young people involved feel as if they have no choice but to continue doing what the gangs want. If you are concerned for a child at risk of gangs or county lines involvement report it and seek help and advice.