Police across York and North Yorkshire are working with local schools to help raise awareness of “county lines” drug dealing and the impact it has on vulnerable young people.
County lines is a form of organised crime where criminals based in larger towns and cities exploit children, young people and vulnerable adults by grooming them and forcing them to sell or transport drugs to smaller towns on their behalf. It takes its name from the phone lines used to communicate between the dealers and drugs users.
A lesson plan has been developed by the Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Organised Crime Unit and is set to be offered to all secondary schools along with signposting to the “Trapped” campaign.
Developed in Greater Manchester, “Trapped” tells the story of young people who are exploited by a drug dealer before being forced to sell and carry drugs for him. A series of videos tell the story from four angles: the victim’s, his mother’s, his teacher’s and the criminal’s, showing the impact it has on them and their family.
Sergeant Neil Northend, who works with schools across the North Yorkshire Police area, said: “It’s vital that young people understand what grooming looks like, and the consequences of getting involved in what is serious criminality. Although drug dealers will look for vulnerable children to exploit, children from affluent backgrounds have also been drawn in to county lines. These criminals can use extreme violence and we all have a responsibility to protect our young people from these dangerous situations.
“In some cases nationally, children as young as 12 have been used to sell drugs. All parents, carers and people who work with young people need to be aware of the signs to look out for and report any concerns to the police or social services. It’s also a good idea for parents and carers to watch the Trapped video with their children. It’s far better that we prevent them from becoming involved, than try to draw them out of the criminals’ clutches ”
If a child or young person is in immediate danger, always call 999.Posted on in News stories