County Lines and Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE)

A simple definition of Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE). is:

CCE often occurs without the victim being aware that they are being exploited and involves young people being encouraged, cajoled or threatened to carry out crime for the benefit of others. In return they are offered friendship or peer acceptance, but also cigarettes , drugs (especially cannabis), alcohol or even food and accommodation.

What is County Lines?

County Lines' is the name given to the criminal activity of gangs exploiting young people & vulnerable adults by sending them to sell drugs in in areas where they’re unknown to the police. They will often use intimidation, violence and weapons, including knives, corrosives and firearms.

Spotting the Signs

A young person’s involvement in county lines activity often leaves signs. A young person might exhibit some of these signs, either as a member or as an associate of a gang dealing drugs. Any sudden changes in a young person’s lifestyle should be discussed with them. Some indicators of county lines involvement and exploitation are listed below, with those at the top of particular concern:

  • Persistently going missing from school or home and / or being found out-of-area;
  • Do they suddenly have lots of money/lots of new clothes/new mobile phones?
  • Are they receiving more calls or texts than usual?
  • Are they travelling alone to places far away from home?
  • Are they carrying or selling drugs?
  • Are they carrying weapons in particular knifes?
  • Are they in a relationship with or hanging out with someone/people that are older and controlling?
  • Do they have unexplained injuries? Or are you suspicious of physical assault
  • Do they seem very reserved or seem like they have something to hide?
  • Are they going missing from school or their home?
  • Significant decline in school results / performance
  • Gang association or isolation from peers or social networks
  • Self-harm or significant changes in emotional well-being

Reporting Concerns

If you have got any concerns please contact the Teacher in Charge at your child's school via telephone or email.


Intelligence and information about crimes can be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or by phoning the police on 101


Sources and Further Reading:


Examples of Child Criminal Exploitation:

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