County Lines is a national issue involving the use of mobile phone 'lines' by groups to extend their drug dealing business into new locations outside of their home areas. This issue affects the majority of police forces. A 'county lines' enterprise almost always involves exploitation of vulnerable persons; this can involve both children and adults who require safeguarding.
Indicators that a young person may be involved in gang activity or a county lines enterprise:
- Displaying polarised views from family and friends
- Spending time with a new group of friends, potentially older or from out of the area
- Changing their appearance and clothing
- Becoming withdrawn from family and friends
- Going missing or not disclosing their whereabouts
- Going by a new nickname
- Using signal or code to communicate with friends
- In possession of weapons or improvised weapons
- Involved in the misuse of drugs or alcohol
- In possession of unexplainable amounts of money or new expensive gifts e.g. mobile phones or jewellery
Cuckooing is a form of crime in which drug dealers take over the home of a vulnerable person in order to use it as a base for drug dealing. This practice is on the increase with urban dealers targeting small, rural and coastal towns where there is little or no competition. Signs to look out for include:
- Individuals taking over a vulnerable resident’s address
- Vulnerable people scared, threatened or coerced
- Frequent or high numbers of visitors at the address
- Signs of drugs misuse including deal bags and weighing scales
- Individuals with large amounts of cash or multiple mobile phones
How to report county lines, gang or cuckooing activity
If you believe a young or vulnerable person may be involved in county lines or gang activity, or are a victim of cuckooing and could be at risk of harm you can contact the Surrey Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). Availability: 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday Phone: 0300 470 9100 Out of hours: 01483 517898. You can also email your concerns to: email@example.com (children) or firstname.lastname@example.org (adults).
Alternatively, if you think someone you know is involved in a county lines enterprise, you can report it online or call Surrey Police on 101 (always call 999 in an emergency). You can also report it in person at your local police station.