Help us prevent the criminal exploitation of young and vulnerable people.
A ‘county line’ is a term used to describe an organised criminal network using dedicated mobile phone numbers to move illegal drugs into an area.
The gangs are likely to exploit children and young people and vulnerable adults to move and store the drugs and money. They will often use coercion, intimidation, violence and weapons.
This exploitation is a form of abuse and is against the law. Our Cambs Against County Lines partnership is working to prevent it, and you can help by reporting suspicious behaviour.
Report suspicious activity to the police online or phone 101. You can report only what you know or have seen, without giving your name. You can also give information to Crimestoppers anonymously or phone 0800 555 111. You should phone 999 if somebody is in immediate danger or a crime is taking place.
Spot the signs, cut county lines
If somebody you know shows any of these signs, they might be involved in county lines activity.
- They often go missing from home or school
- They travel alone to places far away from home
- They suddenly have lots of money, new clothes or mobile phones
- They receive more phone calls or messages than usual
- They carry or sell drugs
- They carry weapons or know people that have access to weapons
- They spend time with somebody who is older and controlling
- They have unexplained injuries
- They seem scared or reserved, or like they have something to hide
- They are self-harming
Local support from Cambs Against County Lines
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough funded a project with the Cambridge Community Safety Partnership in 2020, which has become the ‘Cambs Against County Lines’ campaign. Part of the project was a survey on drugs, violence and gangs in Cambridge.
The partnership used the feedback from the survey to produce a 10-minute video by AlterEgo Creative Solutions to help raise awareness of county lines in local schools. It is aimed at Key Stage 3 pupils, and is intended to be followed by a workshop to expand on the themes introduced in the video.
Contact us for more details if you are a teacher, safeguarding lead or community organisation.
Other support and useful links
Alter Ego have produced toolkits about child criminal exploitation with the Children’s Society, National Police Chief’s Council and Victim Support.
These links to local organisations and national drug-support specialists provide more information about county lines, child exploitation and safeguarding.
- Cambridgeshire Constabulary: Victim and Witness Hub
- Cambridgeshire County Council: Early Help – accessing support for your family
- Cambridgeshire County Council: Safeguarding children and child protection
- The Children’s Society: County lines and child criminal exploitation
- Fearless – a safe place to give information about crime, 100% anonymously
- NSPCC: Criminal exploitation and gangs
- NSPCC: Protecting children from county lines
- Romsey Mill – a charity creating opportunities for local young people, children and families
- Peterborough City Council: Safeguarding children
- Safeguarding Children Partnership Board
- St Giles’ Trust – a charity using expertise and real-life past experiences to empower people to progress towards positive futures