County Lines

‘County lines’ involves drugs, violence, gangs, criminal and sexual exploitation, modern slavery, and missing persons.


Although it has been in existence for some time, we are only just beginning to understand the extent of the problem. It is estimated that 46,000 children in England are involved in gang activity today, with around 4000 teenagers in London alone being exploited through county lines. County lines represents a significant threat to young people, who make up a large proportion of those involved. In the past these young people have been treated as offenders – a part of the problem. Only recently has it been recognised that many of these young people enter this world of criminality as victims.

In 2017, the Home Office, National Crime Agency, the National Police Chief’s Council, the Children’s Society and Victim Support, as well as a number of smaller, individual organisations have all released new guidance on approaching the county lines problem as awareness around the issue continues to grow. Recognising young people at risk and intervening early is a key part of the strategy. This resource package is aimed at raising awareness about the county lines problem and helping young people to maintain resilience against becoming involved in it.

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Associated content

County Lines Educational Resource from Fearless (part of Crimestoppers)

Educational resource for professionals working with young people throughout the UK, providing exercises on a range of crime types to challenge young people’s perceptions, stimulate debate and encourage good citizenship.

Serious and Organised Crime Interactive Toolkit

A toolkit designed by the Home Office in partnership with police and voluntary organisations to provide information to practitioners working with young people.