Community safety delivery plan outline 2022 - 2023

Priority three: county lines

The National Crime Agency define County Lines as being “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 gangs.  The ‘County Line’ is the mobile phone line used to take the orders of drugs.

County Lines in Lichfield District

The risk of criminal exploitation of vulnerable people exists in every area in Staffordshire and the risk is no less in Lichfield District. Those at particular risk of being criminally exploited are vulnerable people who are generally those who are socially isolated particularly those with mental health needs and learning difficulties or with alcohol or drug dependencies. Children who live in areas with high levels of domestic abuse or in areas of high deprivation are also a group at risk of exploitation as well as young males in care or attending pupil referral units.  The recent covid pandemic has exasperated some of these risk factors by increasing social isolation and contributing to a decline in mental health for some. Bourne Vale is the ward in Lichfield with high rates of drug possession which can be indicative of those at risk of involvement with county lines activity.  Chasetown has particularly high rates of children subject to child protection plans which may result in children and young people being at risk of criminal exploitation.

Lichfield Response

In Lichfield the risk of exploitation by people involved in County Lines is clear and present.  Drugs are being brought into Lichfield and there are existing networks that enable their distribution.  The partnership needs to increase resilience of children (in particular) and families to the risks of exploitation and to develop better cooperation between agencies to enable earlier identification of those who are becoming at risk of exploitation.

Actions we will take

  • Further develop the early identification and intervention work through partnership HUB meeting including a process for escalation and de-escalation to and from Multi-Agency Child Exploitation (MACE) panel
  • Refine and review the understanding of the numbers involved or at risk of being involved
  • Identify suitable educative programmes for schools and the PRU to build resilience and raise awareness in targeted cohorts where risk has been identified
  • Deliver awareness raising information for taxi drivers and local venues such as hotels

Outcomes

  • Children and young people identified at the earliest opportunity for preventative support
  • More vulnerable people provided ongoing support after intervention by MACE to ensure gains are secured
  • A clearer picture of the risks and associated harms to vulnerable people in the district and an increased ability to design and target support
  • Vulnerable young people more resilient to involvement in exploitation
  • Increased awareness and reporting of suspicious activity resulting in better protection for young and other vulnerable people