Serious Youth Violence

The involvement of young people in Serious Youth Violence – including drug distribution – has links to organised crime and other risk areas, for example child sexual exploitation and going missing.

Young people involved in Serious Youth Violence are often vulnerable individuals who may be drawn into organised crime and can be both perpetrators and victims of harm. 


National Serious Violence Strategy

On 9 April 2018, the Home Office launched a new Serious Violence Strategy to combat concerning trends in serious violence within the community. Considerable attention is paid to violence amongst young people and factors that may contribute to serious violence including ‘County Lines’ exploitation (see below). 

The Serious Violence Strategy also focuses on intervention in Serious Violence (specifically homicide, knife crime, gun crime and specific areas where serious violence is inherent, such as gangs and county lines drug dealing) in four key areas – 

  • Tackling County Lines and Misuse of Drugs;
  • Early Intervention & Prevention;
  • Supporting Communities & Local Partnerships;
  • Effective Law Enforcement & Criminal Justice Response

The Serious Violence Strategy goes on to detail a number of initiatives that the UK Government seeks to implement to address Serious Violence across the UK, including –

  • an Early Intervention Youth Fund;
  • additional support for the Redthread Youth Violence Intervention Program to expand outside of London;
  • continued funding of Young People’s Advocates;
  • further community awareness and media campaigning around the risks of carrying knives.

Please see the link above or the right-hand menu if you wish to view the Home Office Serious Violence Strategy in full.


County Lines

In November 2017, the National Crime Agency (NCA) released a national briefing report, “County Lines Violence, Exploitation and Drug Supply, 2017′. This report contains considerable information regarding key aspects of what constitutes a ‘County Lines’ criminal operation, trends around where and how this drug supply and exploitation is taking place and who is often exploited by County Lines criminal operations.

Some key aspects of a County Lines criminal operation include – 

  • “County lines relates to the supply of class A drugs (primarily crack cocaine and heroin) from an urban hub into rural towns or county locations. This is facilitated by a group who may not necessarily be affiliated as a gang, but who have developed networks across geographical boundaries to access and exploit existing drugs markets in these areas;
  • A key feature of county lines drug supply is the use of a branded mobile phone line which is established in the marketplace and promoted throughout the existing customer base. Group messages are sent out periodically to the customer base to advertise the availability of drugs and orders are placed back to this line in response. A relay system (another phone) is then used to pass orders onto dealers in the rural marketplace. The branded phone line is generally controlled by senior group members who are traditionally located in the urban hub. However, we are increasingly seeing incidents of the phone being held closer to the rural marketplace. Some phones are reported to move periodically between these market locations;
  • The exploitation of young and vulnerable persons is a common feature in the facilitation of county lines drugs supply, whether for the storage or supply of drugs, the movement of cash, or to secure the use of dwellings held by vulnerable people in the rural marketplace (commonly referred to as cuckooing);
  • County lines groups use high levels of violence and intimidation to establish and maintain markets, whether that’s forcing existing suppliers out, as a means to enact some form of retribution, controlling vulnerable individuals or as a general show of strength. Levels of violence vary considerably but it often includes the use of knives, corrosives, firearms and other weapons. It may also include sexual violence and sexual exploitation;
  • The group, or individuals exploited by them, travel regularly between the urban hub and the rural marketplace, to replenish stock and deliver cash. This movement is not unique to county lines drug supply but is generally more frequent and in smaller deal amounts compared to most other drug supply methods.”

– National Crime Agency, ‘County Lines Violence, Exploitation & Drugs Supply, 2017’ 

This NCA Report also notes that children are frequently drawn into County Lines exploitation –

  • 65% of (police) forces (28) reported the exploitation of children. This broadly covers all types of exploitation i.e. drug running, child sexual exploitation (CSE) and human trafficking. 42% of forces (18) specifically reported evidence of children ‘running’ (moving drugs/money) on behalf of drug lines.”

– National Crime Agency, ‘County Lines Violence, Exploitation & Drugs Supply, 2017’

The Home Office Serious Violence Strategy 2018 indicates that a National County Lines Co-ordination Centre will be funded to specifically address this type of exploitation. 

Please click the link above or in the right-hand menu if you wish to review the entire NCA County Lines report.