October 4, 2022 2.30 pm This story is over 18 months old

New Crimestoppers campaign highlights County Lines dangers in Lincolnshire

Organised crime gangs target young people

Crimestoppers has launched a new two-week campaign across Lincolnshire to highlight the dangers of young people being groomed and exploited by drug gangs and becoming involved in County Lines.

The charity is offering ways to help people identify those who are at risk of being groomed into a life of drug dealing and associated physical and sexual violence.

The campaign highlights how organised crime gangs target young people to find out their vulnerabilities.

Crimestoppers said a lifestyle is often sold before loyalty is tested by asking for favours and offering a sense of protection.

This can lead to those exploited being trapped through debt bondage, isolation from family and friends, physical, psychological and sexual abuse.

| Photo: Crimestoppers

Anybody can get caught up in illegal, harmful drug activity. Signs to spot that something may not be right include:

  • Changes in the way young people you know might dress and unexplained, sometimes unaffordable, new clothes, jewellery, phones, cars etc
  • Access to multiple phones/receiving excess phone calls or texts
  • You witness them dealing drugs

Criminals can take over a home or short-term let as a drugs base, this is known as ‘Cuckooing’. Signs of this can include:

  • Regular short stay visitors
  • Residents or young people going missing, maybe for long periods of time
  • Curtains often always closed during the day
  • A change of mood/demeanour (e.g. secretive/withdrawn/aggressive/ emotional)
  • Unusual frequency of take away food
  • Increase in rubbish/drug paraphernalia

| Photo: Crimestoppers

The charity is encouraging anyone with information or suspicions about organised drug gangs – and victims who need safeguarding – to contact Crimestoppers 100% anonymously by calling freephone 0800 555 111 or by completing a secure online form here.

Young people are also being encouraged to visit Crimestoppers’ youth service Fearless.org, which offers non-judgemental advice so they can make informed decisions about lifestyle choices and realise that they have an alternative option when reporting crimes to stay anonymous.

With both Fearless.org and Crimestoppers-uk.org, computer IP addresses are never traced and no-one will ever know you have contacted them.

Lydia Patsalides, East Midlands Regional Manager at the charity Crimestoppers, said “We know that County Lines drug gangs are luring young and vulnerable people into getting involved by gaining their trust, only to trap them into exploitation through violence, blackmail and debt bondage.

“These gangs are expanding their networks quickly, with the levels of violence and exploitation also increasing. This campaign will remind people that we can all play our part in stopping organised crime to keep people safe.

“We are asking that you remain vigilant to the signs of grooming and we are also appealing to everyone to help protect vulnerable members in our community from County Lines activity by telling us anonymously what you know.”