Third of adults in UK do not know what 'county lines' drug dealing is
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Police are urging parents to educate themselves on the warning signs of gang culture after new research revealed a third of adults in the UK did not know what 'county lines' drug dealing is.
A further 38% of parents would not know what to do if their child became involved in county lines dealing, according to anti-slavery charity Unseen.
The findings are part of a new campaign by the charity to raise awareness of county lines among parents, carers and other adults, and to encourage them to get help.
Suffolk police said the force is "committed to educating children and young people" through engagement work in schools.
Chief Superintendent Marina Ericson said: “County lines is where illegal drugs are transported from one area or county into another, often using children or vulnerable people who are exploited by gangs.
"The ‘county line’ is the mobile phone line used to communicate with the end user.
“We are committed to educating children and young people to the dangers of both drug abuse, and the hazards of becoming embroiled in gang culture and knife crime that frequently have links to drug dealing and county lines.
“As an example, as part of our week of action on drug dealing last month, where 29 arrests were made, officers also conducted engagement visits to over 60 schools in Covid-safe environments to deliver presentations and facilitate discussions with pupils on educating them on the dangers of drugs and in some cases these were done remotely.
"This engagement work is on-going all year round in schools and colleges and is part of a joined up and holistic approach with other agencies and partners in increasing awareness and tackling exploitation.
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“Parents and carers can also play a key role here in keeping their families safe. Children and young people, regardless of their circumstances, can be vulnerable to the tactics that drug dealers use to groom and recruit them.
"We urge parents and carers to be aware of the warning signs that suggest that a child may be involved in a gang and to encourage talking to children and young people about the issues involved."
Suffolk County Council said the county's public sector leaders have put £1.35million of funding into a three-year criminal exploitation work programme.
Matthew Hicks, leader of Suffolk County Council, said: “We know that parents want to know more, and the more awareness we can raise about the issue, the better we can safeguard our young people and vulnerable adults.
"Since September 2020 we have delivered over 50 online workshops for Suffolk partners, many of whom are also parents and carers.
“Due to Covid restrictions, we have adapted our materials which are focused on raising awareness and developed an audio presentation for schools and education settings to host on their websites.
"The audio explains what county lines are and how they operate, what the signs might be, what we’re doing in Suffolk and what to do if you have concerns.
“Before the pandemic, we also delivered criminal exploitation and county lines awareness raising workshops across Suffolk schools to 23,000 parents, carers, young people and front-line practitioners.”
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