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County Lines

Working together we can help combat the exploitation of children and vulnerable people by criminal gangs.

County Lines

County Lines is the name given to drug dealing where organised criminal groups use phone lines to move and supply drugs, usually from cities into smaller towns and rural areas.

These criminal groups exploit vulnerable people, including children and those with mental health or addiction issues, by recruiting them to distribute the drugs, often referred to as ‘drug running’.

How to spot possible victims

There are several signs to look out for when someone has been lured into this activity, these include:

  • Persistently going missing from school or home and being found in other areas
  • Unexplained money, new clothes or electronic devices
  • Receiving high numbers of texts or phone calls, being secretive about who they’re speaking to
  • Decline in school or work performance
  • Significant changes in emotional or physical well-being


Criminals running County Lines will set up a base in a rural area or small town for a short time, taking over the home of a vulnerable person. This is known as ‘cuckooing.’

Often people who are lonely, isolated or frequent drug users are targeted. They are often enticed with money for food or bills, or free drugs, in exchange for the use of their home for drug dealing.

The criminals operate from a property for a short amount of time, frequently moving addresses in order to reduce the chance of being caught.

What are the signs of cuckooing?

Signs that 'cuckooing' may be going on at a property include:

  • Frequent visitors at unsociable hours
  • Changes in your neighbour’s daily routine
  • Unusual smells coming from a property
  • Suspicious or unfamiliar vehicles outside an address

What you can do

If you’re concerned about drug-related crime in your area or if you think one of our customers may be a victim of drug exploitation:

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