Superintendent Rob Chalkley, of Dorset Police, explains, “County lines refers to a process where drugs gangs exploit children and vulnerable adults and make them courier drugs and money across the country from the gang’s base to customers in towns across Dorset. The ‘county line’ refers to the mobile phone line, which is the link for the drugs gangs to sell drugs.
“Dorset is always busy in the summer, but this year is busier than most as people look to enjoy a break following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. We know children and vulnerable adults exploited by gangs can get ‘lost in the crowd’ at this time of year, which is why we are asking for help to keep people safe.”
Some of the signs of county lines include children from outside of the area travelling long distances on public transport alone and paying for tickets with large amounts of cash, or children with multiple mobile phones, tablets or SIM cards.
Supt Chalkley continues, “Sometimes drug dealers will befriend a vulnerable person who lives on their own and take over their home and turn it into a drugs den. This is called ‘cuckooing’. Urban dealers often target homes of vulnerable people in small, rural and coastal towns where they can set up shop and sell drugs. Signs of cuckooing include unknown or suspicious looking people coming and going from a neighbour’s house at odd times of the day or night.
“We are asking people to help us to keep Dorset safe. Please visit our website to know the signs of county lines and also keep an eye out over the busy summer period. If you see anything that doesn’t look right, you can report it to us via our non-emergency channels or you can report it, 100 per cent anonymously, to Crimestoppers.”
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