Dates: March 2019-February 2020
Research Team: Dr Jane Dodsworth, Dr Penny Sorensen
Funder: Norfolk Constabulary
The objective of the study was to explore how involvement in ‘County Lines’, and Criminal Exploitation, was experienced by children and vulnerable adults in Norfolk. Whilst there is no official definition of County Lines, the National Crime Agency (2016:5) note that ‘typically county lines activity involves a gang (usually made up of young males) from a large urban area travelling to smaller locations (such as a county or coastal town) to sell class A drugs, specifically crack cocaine and heroin.’ It is already known that vulnerable young people and adults in Norfolk are facing a significant threat from organised criminals from other areas of the country.
While experiences of those affected by county lines activity are diverse, there are also many common features.
- Reducing the risk of exploitation requires an ecological view of behaviour and a more holistic way of protecting children
- Work within the community is expanding but is still focused on specific areas and not yet a community service.
- Services need to be provided that young people want to engage with and which offer viable alternatives to drug dealing/exploitation.
- Since all young people are vulnerable to exploitation we should be prepared to notice its first signs. Real prevention is possible if services and support step up provision at this early point.