Parents, carers and guardians – do you know for sure who your child is with?
Do you know the places they visit or frequent?
What are they doing?
If the answer is ‘no’ then help us to help keep children safe from the misery of exploitation – especially through county lines crime.
A checklist of signs to look out for around county lines crime has been issued and comes as police in Bradford released a video highlighting work to target drugs offences in the city.
County lines crime means groups or gangs using young people or vulnerable adults to carry and sell drugs from one area to another, this can be across a city or across county boundaries.
The term described often includes a range of serious and organised offences and almost exclusively involves violence, intimidation and / or the offer of money or drugs.
By looking out for potential warning signs, parents / carers and guardians can help protect their children from those who want to take advantage of them for criminal gain.
Force Drugs Co-ordinator, Jess Clayton, said:
“The vulnerability linked to County Lines activity is a growing concern.
“County Lines involves drug dealing, the exploitation of children and vulnerable adults, and many areas of serious organised crime – at its core is the principle of criminals looking to take advantage of young / vulnerable people for financial gain and to avoid the criminal justice system.
“We are doing what we can to bring those criminals to justice but by watching out for a few key warning signs you can help protect loved ones from criminals.
“There are five key warning signs to look out for. In isolation each point may be attributed to ‘typical adolescent’ behaviour but if taken together they could point towards something more sinister.
- Does your child have items of clothing, have mobile phones and/or money that they cannot explain how they came by?
- Are they going missing and being found in locations far from home?
- Are they making friends with older individuals and calling them by a nickname?
- Are they pushing away from their peers and changing interests?
- Has there been a change in behaviour – for example saying “others have their back” and are they being secretive?
“This list is not an exhaustive checklist but gives some examples of what parents/guardians and / or carers of potentially vulnerable adults can look out for to help safeguard their loved one.”
Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), said:
“One of the priorities in my police and crime plan is tackling major threats and serious violence which includes organised crime, serious violence and the use of weapons such as knives and guns.
“These are often elements of county lines style criminal activity and we must all work to protect, educate and divert particularly young people away from being caught up in these crime types.
“We are becoming increasingly aware of the efforts and lengths that criminals who supply drugs will go to in avoiding arrest and protecting their criminal activity, including the cruel exploitation of children, young people and vulnerable adults.
“We have to raise awareness of these damaging crimes and need individuals in our communities to report their concerns and provide the intelligence that will help law enforcement and other agencies intervene and prevent further harm.”
This post is based on a press release issued by West Yorkshire Police