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Gangs and County Lines

Gangs and County Lines

Date posted:
15th November 2021
Gangs and County Lines

County Lines:

Children are being exploited by gangs involved in drug crime.  Know the signs to spot.

County lines gangs use children to courier drugs and money across the country.  Children are targeted for recruitment by these gangs in public spaces, such as shopping centres and high streets. 

Have you seen:

  • A child, sometimes as young as 12, alone in a shopping centre or hight street, either during school hours or unusual hours (early in the morning, late at night)?
  • Are they obviously being approached or intimidated by a controlling peer or group?
  • Could they be receiving excessive texts or phone calls?
  • They might seem unfamiliar with the local area or not have a local accent? 
  • Are they deliberately avoiding authority figures such as police officers or security guards?
  • Some may be with individuals who are purchasing tickets for them or giving them money for tickets? 

If you spot a vulnerable young person, you should immediately take steps to safeguard the young person.

County Lines Awareness Video

Watch this really useful awareness video to find out more about county lines gangs and how they operate:

What about Cuckooing?

Cuckooing is when a drug dealer takes over the home of a vulnerable person who often lives on their own in order to use it as a base for drug dealing. Just like a cuckoo, the dealer moves in, takes over the property and turns it into a drugs den.

Dealers will choose someone they can scare, bully and control. They will seem friendly at first.

Victims of ‘cuckooing’ are often drug users but can include older people, those suffering from mental or physical health problems, female sex workers, single mums and those living in poverty. Victims may suffer from other forms of addiction, such as alcoholism, and are often already known to the police. Dealers often approach the victim offering free drugs to use their home for dealing.

Cuckooing is often linked to county lines drug dealing where urban gangs travel to suburban areas to establish a base for drug dealing. As a result of these actions, those being “cuckooed” can suffer from abuse and exploitation.

Signs of ‘Cuckooing’ to look out for:

  • More people than normal going into someone’s house
  • People calling in at all times of day and night
  • Different cars pulling up outside the house and not staying long
  • Strangers who block off the doors and windows to the house
  • If you haven’t seen your neighbour for a while

Halton Housing wants you to feel safe in your home and we have a dedicated Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) team to help us achieve this goal. Anyone who suspects ‘cuckooing’ is taking place, or you think you are a victim of cuckooing is urged to contact the ASB team or Cheshire Police.

Alternatively, you can report information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


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