Date of release: Friday, April 27, 2018

A training programme to help front-line professionals tackle the growing County Lines problem was launched at the University of Greenwich last night (Thursday 26 April).

Criminal gangs in London are sending young (mostly male) people into smaller market and coastal towns to sell class A drugs. This is called County Lines (CL).

Dr Karen Cleaver, of the Faculty of Education & Health, has led a project with the Metropolitan Police and a range of partners across statutory agencies to produce a training package which aims to raise awareness of CL.

Dr Cleaver says: "Young people involved in CL activity are often vulnerable and missing and go undetected. However a crossover exists whereby the young person moves from victim to offender. CL activity is thought to be associated with an increase in violent crime, notably in London.

"Initial results indicate that practitioners who have undergone the training demonstrate higher levels of knowledge. They also report increased confidence and effectiveness in managing young people engaged with County Lines."

The training has been piloted on teachers and nurses, and youth offending professionals. It centres on four short films which explain how county lines operate. The films illustrate, drawing on a mother's and young person's personal experience, how young people are recruited, and associated risk factors to be alert to.

As well as awareness raising, the training helps participants develop an understanding of the relationship between vulnerability and becoming a perpetrator of crime and the potential consequences of this for the young person's mental health.

Detective Superintendent Andy Furphy from the Metropolitan Police adds: "It is clear that we cannot arrest our way out of all these problems and working in partnership with front-line professionals trained to spot the signs of involvement in county lines is crucial to tackling this issue."