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Child Criminal Exploitation

Improving safeguarding responses to gang violence and criminal exploitation

The UK Government definitions of County Lines and Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) are:

County lines is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more importing areas (within the UK), using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of “deal line.”

They are likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults to move (and store) the drugs and money and they will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) and weapons.

Child Criminal Exploitation occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, control, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into any criminal activity: (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial or other advantage of the perpetrator or facilitator and/or (c) through violence or the threat of violence.

The victim may have been criminally exploited even if the activity appears consensual. Child Criminal Exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology.

Factors heightening young people’s vulnerability to County Lines and CCE may include:

    1. Having prior experience of neglect, physical and/or sexual abuse

    2. Lack of a safe/stable home environment, now or in the past (for example domestic violence or parental substance misuse, mental health issues or criminality)

    3. Social isolation or social difficulties

    4. Economic vulnerability

    5. Homelessness or insecure accommodation status

    6. Connections with other people involved in gangs

    7. Having a physical or learning disability

    8. Having mental health or substance misuse issues

    9. Being in care (particularly those in residential care and those with interrupted care histories)

 See Also:          Contextual Safeguarding              Look Closer Campaign