Spot the signs of County Lines

Dorset Police has launched a campaign urging the public to spot the signs of County Lines and help protect vulnerable people from drugs gangs.

County Lines is the term used to describe urban gangs supplying drugs to suburban areas, as well as market and coastal towns, by using dedicated mobile phone lines.

Criminals across the country use children and vulnerable people of all ages to courier drugs and money. These drug dealers will often take up residence in a person’s home - known as cuckooing - to sell drugs in the local area.

Once caught up in County Lines, exploited individuals are at risk of extreme physical and/or sexual violence, gang recriminations and trafficking.

As part of its strategy to safeguard young and vulnerable people, Dorset Police is working to raise awareness of County Lines over the busy summer months.

And although the county remains among the safest places in the UK to live, work or holiday in, police are asking both local people and visitors to stay alert to spot the signs of County Lines - and to report them.

Superintendent Caroline Naughton said: “Protecting the vulnerable and tackling the supply of drugs is a priority for Dorset Police, and we recognise the detrimental impact it has on local communities. 

“We know that County Lines is not a problem that can be solved by police efforts alone, and locally we have developed a successful neighbourhood policing response to drug issues and protecting vulnerable people who are at risk of exploitation linked to drug taking and supply. 

“Our local neighbourhood officers regularly patrol areas that are known for street dealing and carry out safeguarding visits on vulnerable people living in our communities. 

“However, we rely on members of the public reporting information to us and this campaign is aimed at raising more awareness of the signs that someone could be involved in a county lines drug network.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “County Lines is a growing problem, not just in Dorset but across the country. It is something that the police can’t tackle alone.

“We need the support of our communities to continue to provide information to Dorset Police about suspected drug-related offences. We’re asking residents, as well as people visiting the county, to be aware of the signs of County Lines exploitation and to contact the police if they spot anything.”

Signs to look for include:

  • A young person going missing from school or home;
  • Meeting with unfamiliar adults and/or a change in behaviour;
  • Using drugs and alcohol;
  • Money or expensive gifts they can’t account for;
  • A neighbour who has not been seen for a while;
  • More people calling at a neighbour’s home – often at unsociable hours;
  • Suspicious vehicles/people attending a neighbour’s home.

If you have spotted the signs – please tell police. Call 101, report it online at dorset.police.uk/do-it-online, or contact Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555111. If you suspect someone is in immediate danger, call 999.

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