Public urged to #LookCloser for the signs of young people being exploited by county lines gangs
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As children head back to school after as much as six months away the public are being reminded of the potential signs that a young person may be involved county lines drug dealing.
Criminal gangs target children to sell drugs – sometimes forcing them to travel to other towns and cities – with teenage children most at risk of being exploited.
The #LookCloser campaign is encouraging the general public – in particular those working in public transport and the taxi service – to know the signs of county lines drug dealing and report concerns in order to protect vulnerable young people and disrupt the dealing of drugs in our communities.
Detective Inspector Matt Croome, said: “We know that criminal gangs are using children to move drugs in and out of the county – putting young people in very risky situations.
“Any child, no matter their background, can be at risk of being exploited by a county lines gang. The grooming that is undertaken by these gangs is sophisticated – often involving money and drugs.
“But quickly then can become embroiled in a world that is far more dangerous than they were anticipating.
“We also know that county lines gangs will protect the area in which they are dealing – often using extreme violence which has seen many young people lose their lives or be left with life changing injuries.
“Everyone has a part to play in spotting the signs of county lines drug dealing – so make sure you are aware of the signs and report them to the police.”
What are the key signs a child or young person could be at risk that people should look out for?
- Children travelling alone, particularly during school hours, late at night or on a regular basis. They may also look lost or in unfamiliar surroundings.
- Appear anxious, frightened angry or displaying other behaviours that are worrying or appear under the control or instruction of others.
- Signs of drug use, being found to have large amounts of drugs on them, and use of drug-related, violent or sexual language you wouldn’t expect them to know.
- Displaying disruptive or aggressive behaviour - a common response to trauma.
- Carrying large amounts of cash.
- Accompanied by individuals older than them and don’t appear to be family members.
- Having hotel cards or keys to unknown places.
In an emergency or if you concerned that your child is in imminent danger then you should call 999.
If you have concerns that a child may be involved in a county line but the danger is not immediate then you can contact us using any of the below methods:
- Facebook– send us a private message to /DerbyshireConstabulary
- Twitter– direct message our contact centre on @DerPolContact
- Website– complete the online contact form derbyshire.police.uk/Contact-Us.
- Phone – call us on 101.
You can learn more about the #LookCloser campaign and learn about support for young people who are involved in county lines drug dealing by visiting: www.childrenssociety.org.uk/look-closer