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County Lines

Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) & “County Lines”

What is “County Lines”?

  • A child is groomed by a criminal gang, then exploited to transport drugs and money from one area (county) to another
  • The child may be trafficked to the gang’s ‘trap houses’ miles away from home, to find ‘customers’, deal with rival gangs and sell drugs
  • To the gang, the child is an expendable commodity. They’re likely to face violence and sexual exploitation
  • The ‘line’ refers to the phone line that the gang uses for selling drugs

What are the signs to look out for?

A child may:

  • Receive an excessive numbers of texts or calls, or have multiple phones
  • Be anxious if they can’t check or respond to calls and messages
  • Use drugs or be found carrying a large amount of drugs
  • Be secretive – about where they’re going after school, or what they’re doing online
  • Be meeting with older peers or adults outside of school
  • Have money, expensive clothes or items that they can’t or won’t explain, including weapons
  • Become increasingly disruptive or aggressive, or isolated/withdrawn
  • Use sexual, drug-related or violent language you wouldn’t expect them to know
  • Look particularly tired or dishevelled
  • Show physical signs of abuse, such as bruising or bleeding
  • Carry hotel cards or keys for unknown places

Listen for children using any of these key terms:

  • “Bando” – House used for storing and selling drugs
  • “Ting” – Weapon used for protection
  • “The line/trap line/deal line” – Number or phone line used to take drug orders
  • “Worker/runner” – Child groomed and exploited to sell drugs
  • “Going OT” – When a child is being sent “out there” to another area to transport and sell drugs
  • “Bagged/spun” – Arrested or stopped by the police while carrying drugs
  • “Pebbs/pebble” – Small quantities of drugs

Action to prevent exploitation:

Be informed:

  • Both boys and girls can be exploited
  • Children between the ages of 10 and 17 and vulnerable adults are targeted
  • Children from all backgrounds are targeted. Those with particular vulnerabilities may be at more risk
  • Exploitation is taking place in towns and villages across the south west of England, irrespective of wealth or location

Be part of the solution:

  • Know where your child, or the children you are responsible for are and who they are spending their time with.
  • Be aware of what children are doing on the internet and who they may be interacting with.
  • Speak with your child about the realities of child exploitation.
  • Encourage and maintain communication and involvement in positive activities.

Reporting a concern:

If you are concerned about exploitation in your community, contact your local police on 101

Alternatively you can report it to Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555 111 or visit

In an emergency, or if a crime is ongoing, always dial 999.

Useful websites: