Drug Gangs and County Lines

A campaign has been launched to highlight how criminals are inflicting pain and suffering on vulnerable people.

This campaign aims to raise awareness of a criminal activity called county lines. County lines is when criminals from major cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, London and Birmingham expand their drug networks to other areas of the country. This activity brings violence, exploitation and abuse to rural communities. It is becoming more common in rural areas like ours so we need to be aware that this could be happening here.

If you have any information on county lines drugs networks, you can contact us anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via our anonymous online form.

The crime is called county lines because a single telephone number is used to order drugs, operated from outside the area the drugs are being delivered.


To download this information leaflet click Leaflet



County line networks are having a massive impact on rural counties. Vulnerable children and adults are being recruited in our large cities to transport cash and drugs all over the country. This keeps the true criminals behind it detached from the act and less likely to be detected or caught.

These gangs often set up a base in a rural area for a short time, taking over the home of a vulnerable person (also known as 'cuckooing'). They then use adults and children to act as drug runners.

Whilst significant arrests have been made, we need the help of the public to disrupt these criminal networks and to stop the misery they cause their victims. Reporting suspicious activity will help to safeguard many vulnerable individuals who have been coerced into these networks.

How to spot possible victims

There are several signs to look out for when someone has been lured into this activity, these include:

  • Change in behaviour
  • Signs of assault and/or malnutrition
  • Access to numerous phones
  • Use of unusual terms e.g. going country
  • Associating with gangs
  • Unexplained bus or train tickets
  • School truancy or going missing
  • Unexplained gifts (clothes, trainers) and cash

Home Office Guidelines

The Home Office also provides guidance for frontline professionals on dealing with county lines, as a part of the government’s approach to ending gang violence and exploitation.

Click here to see details of their advice.

"County lines isn’t necessarily a term people are familiar with, but as a charity it’s important we raise awareness of this issue and tackle it.

“Gangs coming in from other areas only add to any existing drug-related issues, so we are asking anyone who has information to contact us, safe in the knowledge nobody will know you have done so.

“We won’t judge or ask any personal details. All we want to know is what you know, and you’ll remain 100% anonymous. Always.”

Roger Critchell Crimestoppers Director of Operations

If you have any information on criminal gangs from cities who have recently travelled or moved into an area, please let us know.

Their plan is to set up drug networks  and to use violence and abuse to carry out their criminal activities. We cannot allow this behaviour to go unchallenged.

Report any suspicious activities 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111 or  via our online form.