Drug gangs groom young children to run county lines

Vulnerable children as young as 11, including those excluded from schools and education, continue to be targeted by “county lines” criminals whose drugs operations remain “highly adaptable”.​

County lines is a key safeguarding issue for schools and alternative provision. The term refers to the use of children and vulnerable adults by individuals or gangs to transport and sell Class A drugs – mainly from urban areas into market or coastal towns. Children are also used to transport and hide weapons.

A report this week from the National Crime Agency (NCA) into county lines offending in the UK warns that the high profits being made by criminals mean that their methods and practices are constantly changing as they seek to “minimize the risks they face”.

Core to this risk avoidance is the exploitation of young people and vulnerable adults. Offenders often approach victims before the age of 11 in order to build a relationship and trust. The grooming techniques are similar to those we see in cases of sexual exploitation.

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