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, school or college
- Having more than one mobile phone or being edgy or anxious after receiving calls and texts
- Unexplained money, clothes or gifts
- Unexplained injuries
- A new friendship group, including older young people and adults – or dropping old friends, hobbies and interests
- Being in trouble with the Police or being found with drugs
- Uncharacteristic changes in behaviour
- You may hear words like Going country, OT, Trapping, Cuckooing, ‘G’, ‘Q’, Shotter and Plugging
- They carry weapons or know people that have access to weapons
- 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 Cambs Against County Lines
- Cambridgeshire County Council: Early Help - accessing support for your family
- Cambridgeshire County Council: Safeguarding children and child protection
- Children's Society: County lines and child criminal exploitation
- Fearless - give info about crime anonymously – part of Crimestoppers
- NSPCC: Criminal exploitation and gangs
- NSPCC: Protecting children from county lines
- PACE: Parents against child exploitation
- Peterborough City Council: Safeguarding children
- Romsey Mill – a charity creating opportunities for local young people, children and families
- Safeguarding Children Partnership Board
- St Giles' Trust – a charity using expertise and real-life past experiences to empower people to progress towards positive futures
Useful contact numbers:
- Crimestoppers 0800 555 111
- Missing People call or text 11600
- Parents Against Child Exploitation (PACE) 0113 240 3040
- Cambridgeshire Constabulary 101
- Children’s Social Care – Peterborough 01733 864180, Cambridgeshire 0345 045 5203, Out of hours emergency team 01733 234724
If a child or young person is in immediate danger call 999
We have created an information flyer that you can print for a quick reference guide.