As the summer holidays approach Dorset Police are asking local residents and holiday makers to know the signs of county lines and exploitation to help keep Dorset safe.
Superintendent Andy Dilworth explains: “County lines is a crime where a gang uses a dedicated mobile phone line to sell drugs. They often exploit children or vulnerable adults and force them to courier drugs and money. The “county line” refers to the mobile phone line which is the link for the drugs gangs to sell drugs.
“Dorset is always busy at this time of year with summer visitors enjoying our beautiful coastline and countryside. We know children and vulnerable adults exploited by gangs can get “lost in the crowd” during peak holiday season, which is why we are asking visitors and local people to know the signs and help us keep people safe. We also know that vulnerable children can be more at risk of exploitation by gangs during the long summer holiday as they are away from structured education.
“We are particularly asking for people who work in the holiday accommodation and hospitality industries, as well as taxi firms and bus and coach companies, to keep their eyes and ears open and, if they see something which doesn’t look right, to report it to us.”
Some of the signs of county line include children travelling long distances on public transport alone, paying for tickets with large amounts of cash or children with multiple mobile phones, tablets or SIM cards.
Superintendent Dilworth continues: “Please visit our website to find out about county lines and the signs to look out for. If you see anything that doesn’t look right, you can report it to us via our non-emergency channels or you can report it, 100% anonymously, to Crimestoppers.”
Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset, David Sidwick said: “County lines gangs cause terrible problems in our county, not just by making drugs more readily available but by ruthlessly exploiting vulnerable and often young people. This is a problem I’m determined to tackle and will be a key focus of my police and crime plan.
“It is also an issue where the police need your help, so as visitors continue to come into the county please be aware of the signs of county lines exploitation, and let Dorset Police know if you see anything that concerns you.”