Gwent Police is urging the public to spot the signs of county lines to help protect children and vulnerable people from drugs gangs.
County lines is the term used to describe a drugs gang from an urban area such as London who extend their drug dealing across county boundaries into smaller towns. These organised crime gangs often exploit children and vulnerable people to move drugs and money to these areas. The drugs gangs use violence, threats, intimidation and in some cases, sexual exploitation. Detective Chief Inspector Justin O’Keeffe, Gwent Police’s lead for county lines, said: “County lines drug dealing and associated criminality is a serious threat to communities nationally. We are committed to protecting those at risk in our communities and making Gwent a hostile environment for those seeking to do harm. “We recognise that tackling county lines is not something which can be solved by police alone. We are urging young people, parents and the wider Gwent community, to familiarise themselves with the signs that a young person might be at risk of being exploited and to tell us about your concerns. “The information we receive from the community is crucial in our efforts in tackling drug dealing and protecting the most vulnerable in our area.
Anyone with any information about county lines related activities can report it to us via 101 or 999 in an emergency. “Alternatively, Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111 or young people can pass on information anonymously at Fearless.org.”
What are the key signs a young person could be at risk?
• Always going missing from school/home
• Travelling alone to places far away from home
• Receiving gifts – lots of money or new mobile phones
• Receiving more messages than usual
• Carrying or selling drugs
• Carrying weapons or know people that have access to weapons
• In a relationship with or hanging out with people who are older/controlling
• Seem very reserved or seem like they have something to hide
• Unexplained injuries and seem scared or upset