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Criminal Exploitation

Page last updated: 15/09/2020

​​Children manipulated and coerced into committing crimes.

County Lines

  • gangs and criminal networks exporting illegal drugs to UK; 

  • dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of 'deal line';

  • exploitation of children and vulnerable adults;

  • moving and storing drugs and money;

  • coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence), weapons.

Typical county lines activity

  • travelling to county or coastal towns to sell class A drugs;

  • recruiting and exploiting vulnerable children as couriers;

  • trafficking children from their home locality;

  • using rental accommodation and budget hotels to make and sell drugs; 

  • taking over vulnerable adults' homes, who cannot challenge – 'cuckooing'.


Slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking. Includes:

  • holding a person in slavery;

  • servitude; 

  • forced or compulsory labour; 

  • facilitating travel with the intention of exploitation.


  • children tricked, forced or persuaded to leave home;

  • moved and then exploited; 

  • forced work or sale.

Other exploitation examples

  • theft; 

  • working in drug production; 

  • fraudulent activity (eg Money Mules); 

  • coercion to threaten others.

Useful information

County Lines

Modern slavery and human trafficking

  • National Crime Agency - guidance, information and resources. Includes videos and reports.

  • NSPCC - advice to help spot the signs and to report concerns.

Other examples of exploitation

  • NWG Toolk it - how to speak with young people who may be at risk.

  • NSPCC - the signs of criminal exploitation and involvement in gangs. Details of support.

  • The Children's Society - information, guidance and intervention on a range of exploitation topics. ​