Home Office updated guidance – county lines gangs


County lines refers to a model used by criminal gangs, whereby urban gangs supply drugs to suburban areas and market and coastal towns. These gangs frequently exploit children and vulnerable adults to courier drugs and money. Some vulnerable adults have their homes taken over by the gangs (cuckooing) using force or coercion.


To support policing and other statutory frontline staff – particularly those who work with children, young people and vulnerable adults – in identifying potential victims of this type of criminal exploitation, the Home Office has updated its County Lines guidance.

It sets out the signs to look for in potential victims, and what action staff should take so that potential victims get the support and help they need. The document supplements an organisation’s existing safeguarding policies.

The guidance is available here: https://tinyurl.com/y8fzxunt

Alongside the guidance, there are resources (available here: https://tinyurl.com/y9kku2es) to help policing and statutory staff recognise the signs to look out for, that could indicate that someone is a victim of county lines gangs.


The LSCB & the Safeguarding Adult Board (SAB) have also produced two briefings for professionals to raise awareness of county lines activity.

You can read a short briefing which gives staff an introduction to these emerging areas or risk  – Read here: short briefing 

You can read a longer briefing with fuller details for those who work primarily with children, families and/or adults with care and support needs – Read here: Professionals Briefing


The Home Office is also raising awareness of county lines across a range of non-statutory sectors. These are:


Materials for the social housing sector are currently being developed and will be available shortly.  The Home Office have also produced social media assets (available here: https://tinyurl.com/y93xnot3)  which they encourage PCCs to use in their own public-facing county lines awareness raising work.