County Lines after COVID – a new threat? – Crest Advisory

Since the COVID-19 lockdown began, the received wisdom reported in the media has been that the threat from county lines operated by organised crime groups (OCGs) and gangs would reduce. However, the picture appears to be far more complex. The gangs who operate county lines have always proven highly versatile and adaptable, and they are now embracing new tactics to protect a lucrative business.

Significant reductions in the number of children reported missing from home or care have been cited as evidence that exploitation through county lines has reduced due to the lockdown. On the surface this makes sense, as it seems obvious that exploitation of vulnerable children and in county lines drugs networks may be easier to disrupt during the COVID-19 lockdown due to increased visibility of young people in public spaces or on public transport.

However, there are several reasons that this should be treated with caution.

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