• County Lines

What happens on the inside

After a teenager has been recruited by a County Lines gang, they invariably react one of two ways;

  1. "Shit. What have I done? Nah, I want out of this. This isn't what I was promised"

  2. "Oh. Well this is different from what matey promised me. Maybe I'm not good enough and need to work harder"

If the teenager wants out, they are controlled with violence, in a bid to make them too scared to leave.

This is only a short term solution and the gang are all too aware of this. Entrapment is usually the gang's long term answer. This is achieved by getting the teenager up to their eyes in debt, so they are forced to stay and work their debt off. By that point, the gang have enough information about the teenagers friends and family, to enable them to use violence towards the teenagers loved ones as an alternate threat.

If the teenager is naive enough to believe that what he's been promised, will eventually come true; more lavish promises are made by the gang members to lure and control the teenager into working voluntarily.

Obviously, the latter scenario is what all County Line gangs hope for when recruiting younger members. Teenagers are used by County Line gangs to do most of the leg work. If a large quantity of drugs is found in the possession of a minor- the outcome is far less severe than if found in the possession of an adult.

Until the exploitation of teenagers by County Line gangs was blown up in the media- it was fact that teenagers were overlooked and less likely to be suspected of being involved with drugs. So it was less risky for a County Lines gang to use teenagers as drug mules and shotters.

Gangs benefited in many other ways. Teenagers are cheap to pay, less likely to take drugs, can be coerced very easily, have less to lose, and pose far less threat to the gang in the event of future situations which call for retaliation.

Teenage gang members don't often have access to lethal weapons the older ones can get their hands on. Nor do they have a large social circle to call on if they ever need back up.

I don't believe in being able to change a person or their behaviour. I do believe that it's possible to change the way you behave towards that person.

Nagging and lecturing teenagers about the dangers of County Lines has proved pointless. If anything, we are pushing them further away.

If teenagers are given the facts on County Lines, and the tactics and strategies the gang's use; maybe that will trigger a spark of doubt the next time a teenager is being lured by a false promise. Hopefully that spark of doubt will be the first step in preventing teenagers becoming involved with County Lines.

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