County Lines: urban drug dealers expanding their activity into small town markets.
On Thursday 21 March our Year 9 pupils will be watching a play by AlterEgo Creative Solutions based around Child Criminal Exploitation. The play will specifically focus on County Lines. The County Lines drug trafficking model sees vulnerable adults and young people living in regional areas of the UK targeted by organised groups and gangs (that have travelled from more urban city locations). These groups can groom, trick, trap and manipulate children into trafficking drugs and sometimes weapons for them using the internet, social media as well through friendship groups and people known to the young person themselves.
No one really knows how many young people across the country are being forced to take part. The Children’s Commissioner, however, estimates that there are at least 46,000 children in England who are involved in gang activity and are being exploited through Child Criminal Exploitation, or 'County Lines'.
Helen Charlesworth, Assistant Head, says “We are really looking forward to having AlterEgo to present the County Lines play to our Year 9s. They are the same group that deliver Chelsea’s Choice to Year 8 pupils and put across some very challenging topics in an accessible and engaging way for our pupils. As our letter to Year 9 parents says, this is a powerful way to enhance the PSHE curriculum and help our pupils to stay safe.”
This play for our Year 9s is part of a programme of work around raising and tackling the complex nature of Child Criminal Exploitation and is supported by Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children Board and all Partner Agencies in the county, as we want vulnerable children to be recognised as victims of trafficking and exploitation and receive appropriate support when necessary.
We know that one way to protect young people is to give them the knowledge of the dangers so that they are aware, as well as letting them know where they can go for help and support if they are worried.