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Information on a gang culture using children across county borders.

Criminal exploitation of children and vulnerable adults is a geographically widespread form of harm that is a typical feature of county lines activity. It is a harm which relatively little is known about or recognised by those best placed to spot its potential victims.

What it is it:

  • organised crime based on a model of drug supply, violence and intimidation


  • gang and gang organisation, often Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is a factor
  • firearms, knives, corrosives a feature used in intimidation
  • crossing county borders to source and recruit vulnerable young people to start and sustain supply chains
  • move and launder money from illicit means
  • targets the most vulnerable and disaffected youth for example those missing or often out of school or education

What can schools do:

  • raise awareness for staff and to be alert
  • consider staff training
  • identify potential children
  • use safeguarding processes to report

No one really knows how many young people across the country are being forced to take part, but The Children's Commissioner estimates there are at least 46,000 children in England who are involved in gang activity. It is estimated that around 4,000 teenagers in London alone are being exploited through child criminal exploitation, or 'county lines'. Tragically the young people exploited through 'county lines' can often be treated as criminals themselves.

The Children's Society have useful videos, tools and information to assist schools in developing their awareness.

Additional information and resources

The Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Partnership have safeguarding procedures for children in specific circumstances.

GOV.UK have produced guidance for frontline professionals on dealing with county lines, which is part of the governments approach to ending gang violence and exploitation.

Useful information on county lines can also be found on the Safer Derbyshire website.

There is also a free criminal exploitation and county lines e-learning course, the details of which can be found through the Safer Derbyshire website.

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