Criminal exploitation known as ‘county lines‘ is where gangs and organised crime networks exploit children to sell drugs. Often these children are made to travel across counties, and they use dedicated mobile phone ‘lines’ to supply drugs. Children as young as 12 are being put in danger by criminals who are taking advantage of how vulnerable these young people are.
In 2018 the government set up the national coordination centre for county lines and that has been up and running around a year and still needs time to establish itself. Since county lines relies on mobile phones, the police have recently been given a new power – Drug Dealing Telecommunication Restriction Orders (DDTRO) to shut down a drug dealing line where possible.
In a recent Government report looking at how forces tackle so-called county lines drug gangs, inspectors recommended the Home Office carry out a review of the criminal abuse of mobile phones which should “explore” the regulations of the communications industry, adding: “The present arrangements that enable criminality by allowing the anonymous acquisition of phones and numbers, should be re-examined.”
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