Gangs, Criminal Exploitation & County Lines

County Lines

County lines is the term used to describe how drugs are trafficked from cities into rural areas and towns, 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 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 in Suffolk. This research helps to identify the size of the problem and how to prevent it, intervene and enforce the law to stop the trafficking.

Click on the link below to read the report:

  • Preventing the Violent and Sexual Victimisation of Vulnerable Gang-involved and Gang-affected Children and Young People in Ipswich [Link not yet available]

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

There are three sections, what you need to know, what you need to do and resources.

Gangs and County Lines - Suffolk Response Teams

Suffolk's response to the problem of Gangs and County Lines involves many team members.

Meet some of the people working to stop gang exploitation in Suffolk.

If you have any questions our work please contact

Suffolk Against Gang Exploitation - Cath Bennett, Suffolk County Council

Make A Change - Charlie Pincock, Suffolk County Council

Suffolk Constabulary Response & Prevention Teams - Tonya Antonis, Suffolk Constabulary

Suffolk Safeguarding - Marina Ericson, Suffolk Constabulary


The toolkit is for frontline staff with safeguarding duties, working in law enforcement, social care, education and housing and voluntary sector and helps partners:

General information to further understanding of what works to prevent gang involvement and youth violence.

A summary of the key findings in the above report.

This contains downloadable images, posters, booklets and social media resources focused on:

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.

A short informative document highlighting the different stages of exploitation:

  1. Targeting stage
  2. Experience stage
  3. Hooked stage
  4. Trapped stage

A short document for professionals to use at meetings or other settings when discussing children and young people who are at risk of exploitation.

A web page of toolkits and guidance documents for professionals to inform good practice and support regional strategies.

For lawyers and professionals to help recognise children who may be victims of child criminal exploitation:

This guidance is aimed at frontline staff who work with children, young people and potentially vulnerable adults.

Disruption Toolkit