‘County lines’ is the term used for the proliferating mobile phone lines used by gangs to infiltrate county towns where a profitable drug market is identified. The National Crime Agency reports that 88% of police areas in England and Wales have either an established or emerging County Lines problem in their area. With an estimated 46 053 aged 10–18 years in England in a gang, the activities of gangs and County Lines have a devastating impact on young people, vulnerable adults and local communities. Young people engaged in County Lines activities are at hugely increased risk of child sexual exploitation, criminal conviction, violence, drug addiction and trafficking. It is essential that healthcare staff receive a high standard of training as seen in other organisations and that time is taken to try to identify and intervene with those at risk of gang exploitation at an early stage, to try to prevent significant harm.
- child abuse
- general paediatrics
- comm child health
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Contributors AGW and FF contributed equally towards this article.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.