County Lines – CCE (Child Criminal Exploitation)

County Lines Child Criminal Exploitation Programme

‘County lines’ is a term used to describe child criminal exploitation (CCE) where gangs and organised crime networks groom and exploit children to partake in illegal activity. The Children’s Commissioner estimates there are at least 46,000 children in England who are involved in gang activity. This is a significant threat to the safety and well-being of our young people. Our production reinforces the National Crime Agency’s key strategy of early intervention. ‘County Lines: Illuminating the Darkness’ demonstrates how male and female victims can be implicated in illegal activity.


The story focuses on the lives of Matty and Cassie. Matty’s a teenager who is just trying to help his Dad to pay the bills. Cassie’s a popular girl who is unafraid to speak her mind. We follow their lives as they become entangled in a world of criminality and exploitation. When Cassie and Matty become aware of the danger they are in, it is too late. Our production was created alongside Blackpool Council’s safety team, young people aged 11-19 from various situations and backgrounds, and professionals who work across the North West. ‘County Lines: Illuminating the Darkness’ reveals the severe impact criminal and sexual exploitation is having on the lives of young people across the UK.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Raise awareness of CCE and CSE associated with county lines.
  2. Build resilience against involvement in county lines operations.
  3. Recognise the signs and behaviour of someone who may be involved in county lines.
  4. Help audiences understand the grooming process used in criminal exploitation.
  5. Signpost local support organisations and services. .

PSCHE Core themes that this programme covers:

Health and Well-being

  • Understanding self-esteem changes with personal circumstances
  • Recognising and reducing risk, getting help in risky situations
  • Inappropriate use of phones
  • Misuse of drugs and alcohol (peer influence, personal and social risks, consumption)
  • Managing different influences


  • Qualities, behaviours and features of positive relationships and unhealthy relationships
  • Different types of relationships
  • Different levels of intimacy
  • How drugs and alcohol affect sexual behaviour
  • Consent
  • Recognising bullying and abuse in all its forms
  • Support services available should they feel abused or in an unhealthy relationship
  • Recognising peer pressure (in relation to alcohol and drugs)
  • Carrying an offensive weapon
  • Difference between friendship groups and gangs- managing pressure and support
  • Recognising when others are using manipulation, persuasion or coercion and how to respond
  • Peers supporting one another

Living in the Wider World

  • Challenging their own core values and how they influence their choices
  • Assessing and managing risk in relation to financial decisions (social and moral decisions)
  • Gambling

This programme will complement the following safeguarding objectives

(Department for Education Statutory Guidelines on Keeping Children Safe in Education 2019):
  • Abuse (physical, sexual, emotional)
  • Peer-on-peer abuse
  • Serious violence
  • Contextual safeguarding

”It was very impactful and current. Watching the room, young people engaged, especially the last 10mins which were very hard-hitting!”
Amy-Louise Dunn
Independent Sexual Violence Advocate (ISVA)

”Please pass on that I also thought it was a fabulous performance - so relevant to many of our students in Blackpool right now. Before the performance, the students around me were giggling, by the end of the performance they were completely engrossed. I found it so powerful, it made me cry at the end as I can see how easily our vulnerable students can get stuck in such worlds. I know it generated much discussion with our students and served as an introduction to educating around this extremely difficult subject.”
Nikki Hilton
Re-integration & Additional Support Needs, Educational Diversity

”I thought it was excellent and conveyed the message/dangers very well. I think that many people often imagine only vulnerable children and women are the most likely to be targeted when in reality, males can also be manipulated, pleased to see that this was also put across and that the male was initially the first identified as a route to access the female.”
Rachel Anderson
CISVA (Children’s Independent Sexual Violence Advisor) Renaissance

“Well researched and presented production which was emotive and thought provoking throughout. Actors showed a clear and empathic understanding of the central and tangent issues and portrayed their varied characters to an exceptionally high standard. The use of the local area demographic characteristics in the scriptwriting was engaging and relatable to the audience and the seamless act changes and limited use of props ensured that the key messages were not deviated from.”
Matt Dougall
Community Safety Officer, Public Protection

”Incredibly impressed with the performance, believe it will have resonated with young people, and educated others on the dangers in the world. I found the storyline to be gripping, and current to real life. I think that a performance like this should be shown in all schools and colleges to help better educate children of the dangers they may be faced with. I believe a performance such as the one I watched would impact children much more than a work sheet, video, talking with professionals to some extent.”
Hannah Naylor
Exploitation Support Worker

”My probation colleague and I thought the piece worked really well and was really hard-hitting. The characters were so relatable and I felt it brought out the main issues around CSE and CCE. On reflection, we both thought this would be good in schools targeting kids around 15/16 when these things may start happening as we thought 100% more effective than watching a slide show with someone talking at them. An impressive performance.”
Chloe Dixon
Probation Service Officer. Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service

At A Glance

Age Group: Year 9-13
Key Stage: Key Stage 3 & 4
Duration: 55-60 mins
Group Size: 1-300
Resource Pack: Yes
Follow Up Workshop: Please contact for details