County lines: criminal exploitation of children and vulnerable adults

Brings together documents and promotional material related to the government’s work to end county lines drug supply and exploitation.

On this page you will find information about the government’s County Lines Programme and guidance for frontline workers and professionals.  You can also find social media, images and posters that you can use to help raise awareness of county lines.

The term ‘county lines’ is used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more importing areas within the UK, using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of “deal line”. They are likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults to move and store the drugs and money and they will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) and weapons.

Under the 10-year Drugs Strategy, the government is enhancing the response to this exploitative model of drugs supply by ex the Home Office’s dedicated County Lines Programme.

As part of the Serious Violence Strategy, the Home Office is also helping to raise awareness of county lines among frontline staff. This includes teachers, health workers and those who work in the transport, housing and security sectors who are most likely to encounter individuals at risk. This will help staff spot potential victims and report concerns anonymously to Crimestoppers, or follow their organisation’s safeguarding policy.

County lines: Home Office programme

Guidance for practitioners

Promotional materials

Published 13 December 2017
Last updated 25 May 2022 + show all updates
  1. Added a document that outlines the County Lines programme.

  2. Graphics for sharing on social media published.

  3. Added links to promotional posters for letting agents and landlords.

  4. Added links to promotional posters for taxi and private vehicle hire staff, rail and train operator staff, security industry staff, and bus and coach company staff.

  5. First published.