Raising awareness of county lines

Partner organisations from across the Borough have been working to raise awareness of the national issue of county lines.

County Lines is where illegal drugs are transported from one area to another, often across police and local authority boundaries (although not exclusively), usually by children or vulnerable people who are coerced into it by organised gangs.

A common feature in county lines drug supply is the exploitation of young and vulnerable people. The dealers will target and manipulate children and young people to act as drug runners or move cash so they can stay under the watchful eye of law enforcement.

Working with South Yorkshire Police, Doncaster Children’s Trusts child exploitation and EPIC team have been working to develop new innovative ways to educate the community spot the signs and help children and young people who have fallen victim to grooming and exploitation.

The child exploitation team have also been working alongside Doncaster Council, Doncaster CCG, Doncaster Primary Care, and South Yorkshire Police to develop a Borough wide campaign that echoes the message Doncaster says NO to child exploitation.

Carmel Bartlett, Senior Education Welfare Officer from Doncaster Children's Services Trust, said:

‘’Working with partners, we are able to share our professional insight and knowledge to put preventative practice in place for individual children. As a community we can help by spotting the tell-tale signs which indicate a child is being exploited, these are:

  • An increase in visitors and cars to a house or flat
  • New faces appearing at the house or flat
  • New and regularly changing residents
  • Change in resident's mood and/or demeanour
  • Substance misuse and/or drug paraphernalia
  • Changes in the way young people you might know dress
  • Unexplained, sometimes unaffordable new things
  • Residents or young people you know going missing, maybe for long periods of time
  • Young people seen in different cars/taxis driven by unknown adults
  • Young people seeming unfamiliar with your community or where they are
  • Truancy, exclusion, disengagement from school
  • An increase in anti-social behaviour in the community
  • Unexplained injuries

“Recognising these signs help us as professionals alongside parents/carers to help prevent and support as many young people as possible and combat county lines allowing young people to have their normal childhoods back.’’

Encouraging the community to speak out and say something is vitally important, individuals who suspect something is wrong can report concerns anonymously 24/7 by call or text to 116 000.

Jayne Pezzulo, who works in the Doncaster Child Exploitation Team for Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH), said: “If any member of the public believes a child is in immediate danger the police should be contacted by calling 999. If there are concerns about a child but there is no immediate danger they should get in touch with either the police on 101 or they can also call crime stoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. If you have any concerns please pick up that phone and let us know.”

For more information about child exploitation and how to report it, go to: www.doncasterchildrensservicestrust.co.uk

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