Updated Home Office guidance to help teachers identify victims of county lines

05 October 2018

Across the country, young people and vulnerable adults are being exploited by gangs to move and sell drugs on their behalf in suburban areas, market towns and coastal regions. This criminal activity is known as ‘county lines’, as young people travel to different regions where they’re unknown to the police and can therefore operate undetected. These young people can be as young as ten and are often subjected to threats, violence, and sexual abuse by the gangs.

To safeguard vulnerable young people from being exploited by county line gangs, the Home Office is working to increase awareness of the signs to spot potential victims among professionals, including teachers and school staff who work with children and young people. These professionals are best placed to spot potential victims, and are encouraged to report their concerns to their safeguarding lead. The Home Office has updated its County Lines guidance booklet and produced resources to help teachers and school staff better understand the issues of county lines. The guidance is designed to supplement a school’s existing safeguarding policies. 

Signs include: 

  • persistently going missing from school or home, or being found out-of-area

  • unexplained acquisition of money, clothes, or mobile phones

  • excessive receipt of texts or phone calls 

  • relationships with controlling, older individuals or gang association 

  • leaving home or care without explanation 

  • suspicion of self-harm, physical assault or unexplained injuries 

  • parental concerns 

  • significant decline in school performance

  • self-harm or significant changes in emotional well-being

Teachers and school staff should report their concerns to their safeguarding lead.