Criminal Child Exploitation and County Lines

We know that young people often engage in risk taking behaviour and seek belonging with groups or individuals who are inappropriate. There is sometimes cause for concern that can lead to individuals exploiting children’s vulnerabilities of nativity for their own advantage. Children can be exploited by adult males or females, as individuals or in groups. They may also be exploited by other children, who themselves may be experiencing exploitation. In this situation we will consider all children as victims.

Exploitation or abuse will be in exchange for something the victim needs or wants (for example, money, gifts or affection). It could also simply be an idea of getting an increased status from associating with these people.

Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE)

Criminal exploitation is child abuse where children and young people are manipulated and coerced into committing crimes.


County Lines

County lines exploitation is the process by which gangs, usually from large urban areas, supply drugs to suburban and rural locations using vulnerable children and young people to courier drugs and money.

What signs should I look out for?

Children involved in both CCE or County Lines may:

  • appear with unexplained gifts, money or new possessions
  • suffer from changes in emotional well-being
  • go missing for periods of time or regularly come home late
  • having hotel cards or keys to unknown places
  • unexplained absences from school
  • having a second, old phone (i.e., not a smart phone)
  • increasingly disruptive or aggressive behaviour


What should I do?

Members of staff will report this as a child protection issue to the Designated Safeguarding Lead.

Parents/carers can also raise this with our Safeguarding team and we will be able to offer advice, support or refer to the appropriate specialists.

You should also raise County Lines concerns to the Police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers

Independent UK charity taking crime information anonymously | Crimestoppers (

If you are concerned a child is in immediate danger you should phone 999