Crimestoppers focus on 'County Lines' operations in Scotland
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The charity Crimestoppers Scotland is today launching a new campaign in partnership with Network Rail to highlight how criminal "County Lines" gangs target young people and exploit them to carry cash, drugs and weapons.
The campaign aims to raise awareness of County Lines, which is when criminals expand their drug networks to Scottish cities and towns, bringing serious criminal behaviour such as violence, exploitation and abuse.
The term County Lines refers to the use of a single telephone number to order illegal drugs, operated from outside the local area.
This is having a massive impact on Scotland’s towns and cities and also on vulnerable young people and adults who are being exploited. Young people often transport cash and drugs all over the country, so that the criminals behind them can remain detached and are less likely to be caught.
Many travel by public transport, which is why Network Rail has pledged their support by raising awareness of the problem and are encouraging staff and passengers to become familiar with the signs of exploitation.
The gangs often set up a base in a rural area for a short time, taking over the home of a vulnerable person by "cuckooing" and use adults and children to act as drug runners.
Law enforcement across the UK, including here in Scotland, has made significant arrests of people involved in this type of activity. Many vulnerable adults and children who have been coerced into these activities have been safeguarded.
The campaign will use a series of "spot the signs" posters, postcards and social media tools to help raise awareness of the issue across Scotland.
Angela Parker, Scotland National Manager for the independent charity Crimestoppers, said: “County Lines isn’t necessarily a term people are familiar with, but as a charity it’s important we raise awareness of this issue and help tackle it.
“Gangs coming into our communities here in Scotland, are not welcome. We want to ensure that if they do decide to set-up their operation here, that your information can help get them removed and keep our communities safe.
“When you contact us, we won’t judge or ask any personal details. All we want to know is what you know. We guarantee you’ll remain 100 per cent anonymous. Always.
"If you have any information about people who have recently moved into Scottish communities to sell drugs, please contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or use the simple and secure anonymous online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org.”