Trapped - The Criminal Exploitation of Children and Vulnerable Adults 

County Lines” is a national term used by police and law enforcement to commonly describe the approach taken by gangs and criminal networks originating from urban areas, who travel to locations such as county or coastal towns to sell class A drugs. Gangs typically use children, young people and vulnerable adults to deliver drugs to customers and this often involves the child being subjected to deception, intimidation, violence and grooming. The county lines business model is linked by a marketed mobile phone line through which users phone for specific drugs to be supplied.

In Greater Manchester we recognise that the criminal exploitation of children and vulnerable adults is not only in relation to drugs but can include other forms of criminal activity such as arson, violent offences, storing firearms and holding money, amongst other forms of criminality. We also know that young people and vulnerable adults are not always moved to towns outside of Greater Manchester and that the exploitation can take place within our boundaries. The movement of a person for the purposes of exploitation is detailed in the Modern Slavery Act 2015 as a form of trafficking and slavery.

Another form of criminal exploitation is ‘Cuckooing’ which involves gangs and criminal networks taking over the home of a vulnerable person and using their property as a base to store drugs, firearms and often run their criminal activity.

The ‘Trapped’ campaign aims to raise awareness of all forms of criminal exploitation, in recognition that young people and vulnerable adults may feel ‘Trapped’ and need support to ‘find a way out’. Please download the attached poster and display this in your place of work, particularly if you work with children or vulnerable adults.

Key to this is working with schools, youth centres, housing and drugs services to raise awareness with young people and vulnerable adults, to enable them to identify when someone is trying to exploit them and provide them with safe places to report their concerns. We will ensure that there is a co-ordinated, victim-centred approach to any reported case of criminal exploitation. The following short film was developed with local communities and actors to highlight how people can be exploited in these ways:

If you have any concerns about these issues or you know someone who is being exploited in this way, please contact Greater Manchester Police on 999 if there is an immediate threat to a person or people, 101 in non-emergency situations or anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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