The term ‘County Line’ is used where a group/gang from a larger urban area such as a city or large town, establish a new drug dealing market in smaller towns, villages or rural areas using a mobile telephone ‘line’ to facilitate and organise the distribution of substances.
The drugs being supplied are predominately Class A, crack cocaine and heroin. The line will target vulnerable people, such as young persons to transport and supply drugs from their area, and use local persons to occupy and supply from local addresses.
Young people are easier to recruit because of a number of factors:
- Children and young people have less resilience
- Children and young people do not think it through, and only see the “glamour” associated with drug dealing
- Push factors (trauma, neglect, adverse childhood experiences)
- Pull factors (belonging and acceptance, love, protection, family)
Each drug line will be known by a name. This name is constant, although persons working/controlling the mobile telephone will likely change. This makes it difficult to identify the gang members.
The line is operated 24/7 by young persons in the county area. These are often paid around £50 a day. These numbers will send texts advertising drugs for sale to local drug users.
The person controlling the line is not necessarily in contact with drugs themselves, with a second telephone number often arranging drug collection/drop off locations. Users can be given code names in order to collect drugs from a specified location.
These drug dealers will often take up residence in a person’s home – known as cuckooing – to sell drugs in the local area.
Below are some signs to look out for if you are worried that someone you know is involved in County Lines:
- A young person going missing from school or home;
- Meeting with unfamiliar adults and/or a change in behaviour;
- Using drugs and alcohol;
- Money or expensive gifts they can’t account for;
- More people calling at a neighbour’s home – often at unsociable hours;
- Suspicious vehicles/people attending a neighbour’s home.