Campaign launched to highlight dangers to young people of county lines drug gangs
Crimestoppers has launched a campaign across the Yorkshire and Humber region to highlight the dangers of young people becoming involved in County Lines.
Using social media and aimed at under 18s, the charity is offering ways people can identify those who may be being groomed into a life of drug dealing, along with the associated physical and sexual violence.
Using Fearless.org, Crimestoppers’ youth service, young people across the region will see warnings about these crimes where they are encouraged to look at the Fearless.org website to find out more and to pass on completely anonymously what they know.
Serious crime gangs use social media to encourage, recruit and trick young people to become drug runners, which is why the charity is reaching young people using the same social media channels.
The campaign’s timing is particularly important as potentially more young people risk being exploited with the easing of lockdown restrictions.
Gemma Gibbs, Yorkshire & the Humber regional manager at the charity Crimestoppers, said: “With schools back open, the ‘stay at home’ message changing, and the opening of retail and hospitality, it’s great for the country and the economy, but it does come with more opportunities for young people to be exploited and organised crime gangs to take advantage of this.
“We are appealing to young people to help protect the vulnerable members in our community by telling us information you have about drug crime. Our anonymity promise means you will stay 100% anonymous. The only person who will ever know you contacted us is you.
“Crime information can be passed to Fearless.org 100% anonymously via the website, without the fear of any repercussions. Our charity has always kept its promise of anonymity to everyone who contacts us.”
Fearless.org offers young people non-judgemental advice so they can make informed decisions about lifestyle choices and realise that they have an alternative option when reporting crime. The Fearless.org website allows young people to give information about crime 100% anonymously by using a secure online form.
Detective Inspector Mark Catney, County Lines lead for the Yorkshire and the Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit, said: “Essentially, County Lines crime is drug dealers getting children to do their dirty work. Dealers will look to groom increasingly young children with expensive gifts or grand sounding promises – but it is all a mask that will quickly slip. The hardened criminals will quickly reveal who they really are.
“Children from 14 (and some who are younger) are being encouraged into a life of serious crime where horrific violence is common place. But by knowing the potentials signs of someone being groomed into such a life – where those involved are constantly looking over their shoulder for someone to either attack them or arrest them – it can make all the difference.”