There are suspected 1,500 lines running across Britain. Children are being groomed and exploited, having to travel across the country and sell class A drugs using mobile phone ‘lines’. Gangs target vulnerable children from as young as 8 years old, who are often from disadvantaged households, living in relative poverty, suffering abuse, neglect or experiencing social exclusion due to their race or socio-economic background. The gangs manipulate children by offering money, drugs and gifts in return for drug trafficking. Gang members are violent, intimidating and mainly use knives, exploiting young girls sexually for their own gain. Police have reported (Home Office, 2019) that in the 12 months to September 2018, knife crime had increased by 68.4% across England and Wales.
This issue is increasing across Britain considerably, and professionals in Blackpool saw that better education is needed to provide young people with an awareness of what a county line gang is and the warning signs of exploitation. Blackpool and Fylde College commissioned 2engage to produce a piece of theatre relating to the issue of county line gangs.
Key Aims and Main Issues:
• Deglamorise knife crime and gang violence.
• Highlight the warning signs of criminal child exploitation and child sexual exploitation.
• Pinpoint the key elements of what a county line gang is/does.
• Raise awareness of the dangers associated with gang grooming, both physical and mental.
- Interview and consultations with local young people, asking questions surrounding life in Blackpool.
- Carried out research days, consulting with a range of professionals relating to the safeguarding of young people.
- Wrote and produced ‘County Lines: Illuminating the Darkness’- an original hour-long theatre production.
- A report to evidence findings and the impact made to the young people of Blackpool who engaged.
Toured the performance in six Blackpool high schools and Pupil referral units engaging with 2300 students in Years 9-11. All results are available in the impact report. If you would like a copy of the report please get in touch. For more information about our County Lines provision for schools, please see ‘County Lines: Illuminating the Darkness’