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Campaign to tackle scourge of 'county lines' drug dealing launches for schools and community groups

News release from 12 October 2021

A CAMPAIGN to raise awareness of ‘county lines’ drug dealing and prevent the criminal exploitation of young and vulnerable people has been launched with an online film premiere.  

Cambs Against County Lines is a campaign from Cambridge Community Safety Partnership – of which Cambridge City Council is a partner. It aims to raise awareness amongst young people and adults in Cambridge city of the risks around county lines drug dealing and to help them to recognise the signs of the related grooming process that is a recognised part of this criminal operation.   

County lines is where illegal drugs are transported from one area to another by children or vulnerable people who are coerced into participation by gangs.  

A ‘county line’ is the term used to describe an organised criminal network using dedicated mobile phone numbers to move illegal drugs into an area. Drug dealers get young people to deliver their drugs by paying them or by forcing them through violence, coercion and grooming.  

As part of the campaign, the short video which premiered recently plus other educational resources have been produced by AlterEgo Creative Solutions, for use in Cambridge secondary schools and other educational and community settings, primarily at Key Stage 3. 

The film and resource package produced for Cambridge focuses on a fictional young man named Dex who is involved in county lines drug dealing. The resources outline his ‘six-point business model’ where he talks about how he grooms and ultimately exploits young people to work for him as part of his operation.  

Sessions using this resource package are available for use in educational settings, and will be made available for community based workshops. To find out more please contact countylines@cambridge.gov.uk   

The Cambs Against County Lines campaign has been set up following a survey undertaken in 2020 by the Cambridge Community Safety Partnership concerning drugs violence and gangs in Cambridge.  

Cllr Anna Smith, Executive Councillor for Communities, said: “County lines activity has tragically seen many young and vulnerable people groomed, coerced into crime and exploited by criminal gangs – including right here in Cambridge. This new campaign is so important because it helps to get the message out into the community about the reality of county lines, how to recognise it, and what to do if you think people are involved.  

Cllr Alex Collis, Executive Councillor for Open Spaces, Sustainable Food and Community Wellbeing, said: “I would urge everyone in Cambridge to talk to young people about county lines, and look out for signs of involvement such as unexplained absences, travelling far from home, suddenly having lots of money, carrying weapons, or spending time with older people who seem to be controlling them in some way.” 

If you have any concerns at all you can report suspicious activity to the police online or phone 101, or to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111. If someone is in immediate danger or a crime is taking place call 999. 

For more information on Cambs Against County Lines, including links to resources, visit https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/cambs-against-county-lines  

People can also follow the campaign on Twitter (@CACountyLines), Instagram (@cambsagainstcountylines) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/cambsagainstcountylines)