Gangs, Criminal Exploitation & County Lines

County Lines

This term describes how drugs are trafficked into rural areas and towns, from cities by street gangs, which exploit vulnerable children to do this. 

The National Crime Agency (the Government's crime -fighting unit) describes the way street gangs operate in their County Lines, Gangs and Safeguarding 2016 report.

More drugs are being sold in England and Wales and street gangs and gang culture outside the major cities are responsible for part of this problem, states a report by Pitts, 2008, Andell & Pitts 2010.

 There's research about Youth Gangs and Violence in Suffolk. The University of Suffolk and Public Health worked with us to find out about gang activity and violence in Suffolk. This research helps us to identify the scale of the problem and how to prevent it, intervene and enforce the law to stop the trafficking in our county and nationwide.

The report, published in September 2017, can be accessed  below:

  • Preventing the Violent and Sexual Victimisation of Vulnerable Gang-involved and Gang-affected Children and Young People in Ipswich


Safeguarding Children and Young People at Risk of County Lines or Gang Involvement – Resource Pack

The document below provides guidance for agencies in Suffolk working with children and young people at risk of becoming, or already involved, in county lines and/or gang activity. It aims to ensure a collaborative, consistent and effective approach and identifies that a partnership response to safeguarding children affected by county lines and gang activity is essential.

There are three sections: What you need to know; What you need to do and Resources.


Gangs and County Lines - Suffolk Response Teams

For more information on how Suffolk are responding to the issues of Gangs and County Lines, please visit our dedicated page Gangs and County Lines - Suffolk Response Teams.  The videos on this page explain what the teams are, how and where they operate and how they support people that are exploited. - Gang Culture Videos for Parents    & Junior’s main video page, he’s Junior Smart OBE now & so humble about it all



Safeguarding Children and Young People at Risk of Gang Involvement – Policy, Guidance and Risk Assessment

  • Definitions of what constitutes a gang (e.g. street gang, organised criminal group etc.). 

  • Definitions of levels of gang involvement (e.g. gang affiliated, gang member etc.). 

  • Explanation of how the picture in relation to gang activity in Suffolk is evolving and rapidly.

  • Explanation of the risks associated with gang involvement, such as youth violence, sexual violence and poorer health and mental health.

Aimed at agencies in Suffolk working with children and young people who may be at risk of becoming, or already involved, in gang activity.


Gangs & County Lines: Identifying Risk - Suffolk Youth Offending Service PowerPoint Presentation

A PowerPoint presentation from Suffolk Youth Offending Service aiming to: 

  • enhance knowledge of exploitation of children and young people; 

  • increase awareness of risk factors; 

  • enhance knowledge of services that can assist to reduce the risks of gang involvement; 

  • information for who agencies can refer and signpost to.

Aimed at professionals dealing with children and young people.


Velocity Leaflet County Lines - Briefing for Partners

A two page briefing covering: 

  • what County Lines are, including how and where they operate in Suffolk; 

  • vulnerable people most at risk - ‘cuckooing’; 

  • signs of gang involvement; 

  • advises local community what to look out for and what to do.

Aimed at local partners and general public working with Children and people at risk.


HM Government - Safeguarding children and young people who may be affected by gang activity

A 56 page guidance which covers: 

  • definitions of gang-related activity and associated risks; 

  • identifying persons most vulnerable;

  • ways service can refer and assess those they think are at risk (including an identification and referral flowchart); 

  • support for practitioners and interventions; 

  • the role of the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB), and other agencies’ roles and responsibilities.

Aimed at frontline practitioners in voluntary and statutory services across the children’s workforce, including social care, police, health and education.


HM Government - Child Exploitation Disruption Toolkit

The toolkit aims to help partners:

  • understand and access existing legislative opportunities at their disposal

  • to target specific risks and threats and locations of concern

  • understand many of the tools useful to disrupt sexual and criminal exploitation and break the cycle of abuse and send a signal to perpetrators about the consequences of their actions.

In addition, the toolkit includes best practice in information sharing and multi-agency working as well as intelligence and evidence gathering.

The toolkit is primarily aimed at frontline staff, including law enforcement, social care, education, housing and the voluntary sector, working to safeguard children and young people under the age of 18 from sexual and criminal exploitation.


Home Office - What Works to Prevent Gang Involvement, Youth Violence and Crime

  • Produced by the Early Intervention Foundation and commissioned by the Home Office, the 76 page document provides general information to further understanding of what works to prevent gang involvement and youth violence.

Aimed at statutory services across the children’s workforce, including social care, the police, health or education. 


Home Office - Preventing Gang and Youth Violence: A Review of Risk and Protective Factors

  • A 108 page report based on the findings of academic research concerned with young people living in community settings, with a focus on risks/protective factors in relation to youth violence and gang involvement.  The majority of findings are from longitudinal studies based in the USA.

Aimed at professionals involved in preventing gang activity and youth violence.


Home Office - Preventing Gang and Youth Violence: An Overview

  • A summary of the key findings in the above report.

Aimed at professionals involved in preventing gang activity and youth violence.


Home Office County Lines Partner Pack

A home office produced resource to raise awareness. This contains downloadable images, posters, booklets and social media resources specifically focussed on:

  • Frontline staff

  • Bus and coach company staff

  • Train and rail operator staff

  • Taxi and private vehicle hire staff

  • Letting agents and landlords

  • Private security industry staff

  • Posters for social housing staff

  • Social media graphics


Ministry of Justice - County Lines Exploitation Practice guidance for YOTs and frontline practitioners

  • Provides clear referral pathways for frontline practitioners to follow nationally and use as a best practice template, when responding to, and safeguarding children involved in county lines.

    Aimed at YOTs and frontline practitioners.

Aimed at YOTs and frontline practitioners.


The Children's Society - Criminal Exploitation: Stages of Recruitment (CARE)

A short informative document highlighting the different stages of exploitation: 

  1. Targeting stage 

  2. Experience stage 

  3. Hooked stage 

  4. Trapped stage

Includes contact details for organisations that can assist.

Aimed at vulnerable children who think they might be being exploited by someone, the general public and professionals who deal with children and young people.


The Children's Society, Victim Support and National Police Chiefs' Council - Appropriate Language Toolkit

  • A short document for professionals to use at strategy meetings, multi-agency meetings, or other settings where professionals might be discussing children and young people who are at risk of exploitation.

Aimed at professionals when discussing the exploitation of children and young people


The Children's Society - Criminal Exploitation and County Lines Toolkit for Professionals

  • A toolkit for professionals explaining factors that increase vulnerability of being exploited, indicators to suggest a child or young person is involved in County Line activity. Also includes barriers for young people engaging with interventions, recommendations for professionals.

Aimed at professionals working with children and young people.


CSE Police and Prevention Toolkits

  • A web page with a range of toolkits and guidance documents for professionals to inform good practice and support regional strategies and action plans in relation to child sexual abuse and exploitation and other forms of abuse.

Aimed at professionals working with children and young people.


IT CAN BE STOPPED - A proven blueprint to stop violence and tackle gang and related offending in London and beyond 

  • A 151 page. document from the Centre for Social Justice looking at how to stop the violence and tackle gang and related offending in London and beyond.

Aimed at decision makers, Councillors, Professionals working with children, young people and Adults at risk.


Youth Justice Legal Centre - Child Criminal Exploitation: county lines, child trafficking & modern slavery defences for children 

The short document provides: 

  • Information on how gangs recruit, groom and exploit children. 

  • Guidance on signs that their client might be a victim of CCE. 

  • Overview of the statutory defence under section 45 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. 

  • Advice on defence lawyers’ safeguarding duties advice on the practical steps that should be taken if a defence lawyer suspects that their client is a victim of CCE.

Aimed at lawyers and professionals to assist in recognising children who may be victims of child criminal exploitation (CCE).


County Lines Criminal Exploitation of Children and Vulnerable Adults: Video from the Youth Justice Convention in December 2017

  • An 80 minute video of professionals discussing County Lines at the 2017 Youth Justice Convention.

Aimed at professionals working with children and young people, including statutory services and voluntary and community organisations.


County Lines: criminal exploitation of children and vulnerable adults

This guidance is aimed at frontline staff who work with children, young people and potentially vulnerable adults. (It is also helpful for Carers and Parents but these are not the primary audience)

It explores:

  • What is County Lines.

  • What is child criminal exploitation.

  • How does it affect young people and vulnerable adults.

  • Who is vulnerable to it.

  • What are the signs to look out for.

  • What to do if you are concerned.