Gangs, Criminal Exploitation and County Lines

County Lines

The National Crime Agency describes the way street gangs, exploiting vulnerable younger adolescents in both the major cities and the destination locations, distribute narcotics across wide swathes of the country. (County Lines, Gangs and Safeguarding 2016)

It appears that the proliferation of drug markets in England and Wales has been a major factor in the emergence of street gangs and gang culture outside the major UK cities (Pitts, 2008, Andell & Pitts, 2010).

Public Health, in consultation with the LSCB, commissioned a piece of research around Youth Gangs and Violence. The research was undertaken by the University of Suffolk in 3 geographical phases 1) Ipswich 2) West Suffolk 3) East Suffolk. Phase 1 was completed and the findings published (restricted) in June 2017.


The purpose of the research was to:

  • Identify and assess the nature and extent of the problem and impact on safeguarding and wider service delivery.

  • Describe and assess existing interventions and service provision and, where relevant, highlight gaps and anomalies.

  • Produce evidence led recommendations that will inform a countywide, multi-agency response which will cover the areas of prevention, intervention and enforcement.

It focussed on the recent gang activity in Ipswich and the associated safeguarding concerns.

The final report was published in September 2017 and can be accessed here


Safeguarding Children and Young People at Risk of County Lines or Gang Involvement – Resource Pack

The document below provides guidance for agencies in Suffolk working with children and young people at risk of becoming, or already involved, in county lines and/or gang activity. It aims to ensure a collaborative, consistent and effective approach and identifies that a partnership response to safeguarding children affected by county lines and gang activity is essential.

There are three sections: What you need to know; What you need to do and Resources and Additional Information.



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