Gangs and gang crime

County lines (drug trafficking)

'County lines' is a term used when drug gangs from big cities expand their operations to smaller towns, often using violence to drive out local dealers and exploiting children and vulnerable people to sell drugs.

Dealers use dedicated mobile phone lines, known as 'deal lines', to take orders from drug users. Heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine are the most common drugs being supplied and ordered. In most instances, the users or customers will live in a different area to where the dealers and networks are based, so drug runners are needed to transport the drugs and collect payment.

Young people will rarely say that they are running a "county line" or "country line". They are more likely to say they are "running a Line", "going cunch" or "Going O.T.", which stands for 'over there', 'out there' or 'outta town'.

'Cuckooing' is a term that is used to mean taking over the property of a vulnerable person or an abandoned building – sometimes referred to as a ‘bando’ or a ‘spot. The property is used as a place from which to run the dealers' drugs business.

What to do if you're concerned

The National Crime Agency provides lots of useful information and advice, including signs to look out for, what you should do, and how the law will respond.

Go to National Crime Agency: County lines.

You can get more useful information by downloading the 'County Lines Parents Leaflet' from SMART Training and Consultancy, who work with organisations to improve actions that help young people.