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County Lines Gangs

County Lines is the name given to describe drug dealing by criminal gangs from urban areas expanding their activities into smaller towns and rural areas.

County Lines

It often involves the exploitation of children, as gangs use young people and those with mental health or addiction problems to transport drugs and money. These gangs establish a base in the location they are targeting, often taking over the homes of local vulnerable adults by force or coercion in a practice referred to as ‘cuckooing’.

Dealers typically use a single phone line to facilitate the supply of Class A drugs to customers. The phone line is highly valuable and is protected through violence and intimidation.

What is Cuckooing?

Cuckooing is the term used when gangs establish a base in the location they are targeting, often taking over the homes of vulnerable adults by force or coercion.

How to spot the signs that cuckooing might be happening in your neighbourhood:

  • Lots of different people coming and going from an address during the day and at night.
  • Suspicious smells coming from the property.
  • Windows covered or curtains closed all of the time.
  • Cars pulling up to or near to the house for a short period of time.
  • An increase in anti-social behaviour around the property.

OP MANTIS logo FINALWhat is Operation Mantis?

Operation Mantis is a team of detectives who are tasked with tackling County Lines gangs with the support of other police units within Hertfordshire Constabulary and partners.

Advice for parents and those who work with young people:

Be on the look-out for warning signs that could suggest a child may be involved in gang activity.

  • A child or young person going missing from school or home or significant changes in emotional well-being or significant decline in school results/performance
  • The use of drugs and alcohol
  • A young person meeting unfamiliar adults or a change to their behaviour
  • Relationships with controlling or older individuals or associated with gangs
  • Receiving excessive amounts of texts or phone calls and/or having multiple mobile phone handsets
  • Acquiring money or expensive gifts they can’t account for
  • Suspicion of self-harm, physical assault or unexplained injuries
  • Becoming isolated from peers or social networks
  • Carrying weapons

There are things parents/guardians can do to help prevent their child from becoming involved in gangs.

  • Talk to your child and listen
  • Encourage them to get involved in positive activities and think about their future employment
  • Get involved in your child’s school activities
  • Know your child’s friends and their families
  • Always know where your child is and who they are with
  • Help them to cope with pressure and how to deal with conflict without use of violence
  • Speak to them about the serious consequences that occur from violent or illegal behaviour. Help them to understand the dangers of being in a gang and find constructive alternative ways to use their time
  • Keep lines of communication open
  • Be aware of what your child is doing on the internet
  • Look for ways of disciplining children that do not involve harshness, anger or violence
  • Work with other parents and schools to watch their behaviour
  • Contact local voluntary organisations that provide mentoring and other support for young      people
  • Talk about your child’s behaviour with their school and other parents  
  • Be aware of the websites your child is viewing. Social networking sites can provide access to images and words that promote gang culture. Chat rooms and texts can be used to bully young people into joining gangs

This leaflet www.gov.uk/government/publications/advice-to-parents-and-carers-on-gangs] contains advice for parents and carers on what to do if you suspect your child is becoming involved in a gang.

This leaflet: www.gov.uk/government/publications/advice-to-schools-and-colleges-on-gangs-and-youth-violence  contains advice for schools and colleges on gangs and youth violence.

Signs to look out for in your local community:

  • Lone children from outside of the area
  • Individuals with multiple mobile phones or tablets or ‘SIM cards’
  • Unknown or suspicious looking characters coming and going from a neighbour’s house
    • Young people with more money, expensive clothing, or accessories than they can account for
    • Lots of different people coming and going from an address during the day and at night.
    • Suspicious smells coming from the property.
    • Windows covered or curtains closed all of the time.
    • Cars pulling up to or near to the house for a short period of time.
    • An increase in anti-social behaviour around the property.

Advice for young people

If you’re feeling pressured to join a gang or carry out tasks for gang members, it’s important you stay strong. Joining a gang could ruin your future – and you could even end up losing your life.

To help avoid getting caught up in gang culture, avoid associating with gang members or ‘wannabe’ gang members, and don’t hang out where you know they’re likely to be.

Steer clear of parties or social events which you know are organised by gang members and their associates.

Talk to a trusted adult -  parents, teachers about your concerns. Other organisations can offer further help.

Don’t be tempted to accept gifts, money, or items such as food and alcohol from people who you know to be gang members or gang associates. They could be grooming you to join in with their activities.

If you’re asked to carry out a job for someone who you think is in a gang, say no. It might seem harmless and like easy money, but things could soon spiral out of control.

Advice is available to help you say no.

If you want to give information about gang crime, you can do so completely anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, or giving information online.

You will be kept completely anonymous and your details will not be passed to police.

 

Further help

 

Local support

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National support:

Fearless

We're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - 365 days a year.

It's important to remember that we are not a replacement for the emergency services so our advice, if something is happening that needs immediate action - ring 999.

www.fearless.org/en Fearless is a site where you can access non-judgemental information and advice about crime and criminality. What makes this site different is we also provide you with a safe place to give information to us about crime - 100% anonymously.

Gangsline 

Gangsline is a not for profit organisation that offers free advice and support from ex-gang members. They also have a confidential phone number: 0800 032 9538

Talk to Frank

Talk to Frank is a charity which helps young people who want to kick their drug habit. You can call them confidentially on 0300 123 6600 – this number is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

You can also talk to them anonymously live online on their website. You can text them on 82111 and you can also email them.

How can I help?

We need your help to protect young and vulnerable people in our communities. Ensure you know what signs to look for and report any suspicions to the police so that we can help stop county lines from affecting your community.

You can report any suspicious activity online or alternatively if you wish to speak to someone call 101. If you’d prefer to contact someone anonymously, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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