Criminal gangs are enticing young people into drug dealing
Fearless – the youth service of charity Crimestoppers – has launched a nationwide campaign in Aberdeen warning of the dangers of county lines.
Joined by British Transport Police, Police Scotland and Police Scotland Youth Volunteers, the charity is raising awareness of the warning signs of county lines and urging young people and adults to speak up anonymously with information.
'County Lines' is when criminal gangs set up a drug dealing operation outside their usual area, moving their dealing from big cities across the UK to smaller towns in Scotland in order to make more money.
Young, often vulnerable people are forced to transport cash and drugs all over the country, often by train, so that the serious criminals behind them remain detached and are less likely to be caught.
Drug gangs will then set up a new base in a rural area for a short time, often forcibly taking over the home of a vulnerable person and using local young people to act as dealers for them.
The campaign, supported by Network Rail and Scotrail, will use a series of impactful anonymised true stories on Snapchat and TikTok to warn young people of the dangers of becoming involved.
The charity has also recorded a special podcast for parents and carers with Daljeet Dagon, programme manager from Barnardo’s Scotland who gives crucial advice on the signs to look out for.
Speaking on the podcast about the consequences of County Lines involvement, Dagon said: “The ultimate thing that can happen unfortunately, is that young people can be found dead. They can be harmed in significant ways. They can become addicted to drugs. They can also fear for their lives. They’re unable to sleep, they’re unable to relax as they always need to watch their backs. They can also become disengaged from family and friends in an attempt to keep them safe.”
Lyndsay McDade, Fearless national youth projects coordinator at the charity Crimestoppers, said: “Serious organised crime gangs are exploiting children as young as 11 years old in Scotland. Often they target particularly vulnerable young people and either groom them or recruit them using violence and intimidation.
“That’s why it’s crucial that young people and parents/carers alike recognise the signs to look out for and understand the devastating impact that these gangs have.
“If you know or suspect who is behind the drug gang exploitation of young people and vulnerable adults, please go to Fearless.org and tell our charity.
“Fearless.org can’t track your IP address or any personal details. Just tell us what you know. We guarantee you’ll remain 100% anonymous. Always.”