County Lines

For local up-to-date guidance and an explanation about County Lines, including cuckooing and signs to look out for, please follow this link to the Leicestershire Police webpage, which includes signs to look out for.

The term County Lines describes gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into other areas of the country, often small towns, using dedicated mobile phone lines or another form of 'deal line' which can be a person. They are likely to exploit children or vulnerable adults to move and store the drugs and money and will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) and weapons.

Below is a 'County Lines' Home Office poster, localised for use across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

If you have any concerns about a child or vulnerable adult, please follow the advice under the 'Report Concerns' buttons above.

To see a report by the Children's Commissioner, entitled 'Keeping Kids Safe: Improving safeguarding responses to gang violence and criminal exploitation' (February 2019), please click here.

Home Office publishes updated guidance to help frontline workers identify and protect victims of county lines gangs

County lines refers to a model used by criminal gangs, whereby urban gangs supply drugs to suburban areas and market and coastal towns. These gangs frequently exploit children and vulnerable adults to courier drugs and money. Some vulnerable adults have their homes taken over by the gangs (cuckooing) using force or coercion.

To support policing and other statutory frontline staff – particularly those who work with children, young people and vulnerable adults – in identifying potential victims of this type of criminal exploitation, the Home Office has updated its County Lines guidance. It sets out the signs to look for in potential victims, and what action staff should take so that potential victims get the support and help they need. The document supplements an organisation's existing safeguarding policies. The guidance is available here:

Alongside the guidance, there are resources (available here: to help policing and statutory staff recognise the signs to look out for, that could indicate that someone is a victim of county lines gangs.

The Home Office is also raising awareness of county lines across a range of non-statutory sectors. These are:

Materials for the social housing sector are currently being developed and will be available shortly. Finally, the Home Office has also produced social media assets (available here: which they encourage PCCs to use in their own public-facing county lines awareness raising work.