From Devon & Cornwall Police:
Devon & Cornwall Police are asking local residents and holiday makers to know the signs of county lines and help keep Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly safe.
Detective Superintendent Ed Wright explains: “County lines refers to a crime where drugs gangs exploit children and vulnerable adults to make them courier drugs and money across the country from the gang’s base to customers in towns across Devon and Cornwall. The “county line” refers to the mobile phone line which is the link for the drugs gangs to sell drugs.
“Devon and Cornwall are always busy in the summer, but this year is busier than most as people look to enjoy a break following lockdown. We know children and vulnerable adults exploited by gangs can get “lost in the crowd” at this time of year, which is why we are asking for help to keep people safe.”
Some of the signs of county line include children from outside of the area 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.
Detective Superintendent Wright continues: “Sometimes drug dealers will befriend a vulnerable person who lives on their own and take over their home and turn it into a drugs den. This is called “cuckooing”. Urban dealers often target homes of vulnerable people in small, rural and coastal towns where they can set up shop and sell drugs. Signs of cuckooing include unknown or suspicious looking people coming and going from a neighbour’s house at odd times of the day or night.
“We are asking people to help us to keep Devon and Cornwall safe. Please visit our website to know the signs of county lines and also keep an eye out over the busy summer period and if you see anything that doesn’t look right, you can report it, 100% anonymously, to Crimestoppers.”