The charity Crimestoppers has teams out in Yorkshire today as it embarks upon regional campaign to raise awareness of ‘county lines’ drug dealing networks.
Its roadshow is part of a drive to teach the public about the signs of this kind of illegal activity in their neighbourhoods and urge them to share information.
County lines describes the way gangs and organised criminal networks export illegal drugs into suburban, rural and coastal areas by using dedicated mobile phone lines.
It often involves the exploitation of children and vulnerable adults to move drugs and money, the taking over homes where vulnerable people live, and the use of threats, grooming and extortion by the gangs.
Regional manager Gemma Gibbs said: “We know that the term ‘county lines’ might not be widely recognised, which is why we are launching this campaign and asking for your help to support us in tackling this issue.
“We need help to put a stop to this exploitation and the damage that these criminals are inflicting on our communities and those being taken advantage of. Together we can put a stop to this.”
The campaign team were at Xscape in Castleford and the Royal Armouries in Leeds yesterday, and will be at Wetherby Services and Harrogate’s Valley Gardens today.
A social media campaign is also being run alongside the roadshow to help people spot the signs of county lines activity.
Potential signs include a young person who seems unfamiliar with the area, a young person who is being approached or intimidated by a controlling peer or group, more people calling at an address than usual, suspicious vehicles or people at an address, or a neighbour not being seen for a while.
Further guidance on spotting the signs is available through the Crimestoppers website.
Anyone with suspicions about county lines activity in their neighbourhood can also call the charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.