Child trafficking and ‘county lines’ – new guide from the Youth Justice Legal Centre

CCLC recently collaborated with the Youth Justice Legal Centre (‘YJLC’) and others on a guide about  ‘county lines’ and trafficking.

This new YJLC guide is intended to give criminal lawyers and professionals information about county lines gangs, child trafficking &
modern slavery defences for children.

County lines, trafficking & child criminal exploitation (CCE)

County lines is “the police term for urban gangs supplying drugs to suburban areas and market and coastal towns using dedicated mobile phone lines or “deal lines”.

Child trafficking is defined as the ‘recruitment, transportation,
transfer, harbouring or receipt’ of a child for the purpose of

The guide states there is “currently poor awareness and understanding of CCE”. Professionals do not always recognise children as victims and a child may not recognise that they are a victim.

The Home Office published guidance on ‘county lines’ in 2017 for frontline staff  who work with children, young people and potentially vulnerable adults.

YJLC Guide

The guide contains:

  • information about how gangs recruit, groom and exploit children,
  • practical guidance on the signs that a child might be a victim of CCE by county lines gangs,
  • an overview of the law and about the statutory defence for offences committed as a direct result of exploitation,
  • advice on defence lawyers’ safeguarding duties to clients whom they suspect might be the victim of CCE,
  • advice on the practical steps  if it is suspected that a child is a victim of CCE.