Helping Shape Your Future

Since 1986

Helping Shape Your Future

Since 1986

‘County Lines’ is a term used when drug gangs from big cities expand their operations to smaller towns, often using violence to drive out local dealers and exploiting children and vulnerable people to sell drugs. These dealers will use dedicated mobile phone lines, known as ‘deal lines’, to take orders from drug users. Heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine are the most common drugs being supplied and ordered. In most instances, the users or customers will live in a different area to where the dealers and networks are based, so drug runners are needed to transport the drugs and collect payment.


County lines commonly involves the illegal distribution and dealing of seriously dangerous drugs from one city/town to another. The most common drugs involved are heroin and cocaine (crack and powder), but also MDMA, cannabis, amphetamines and spice.


Gangs sometimes use violence to threaten children and young people when recruiting them. Gangs also violently assault children and young people working for them if they find their drugs or money to be missing. Weapons such as firearms, knives, bats, acid are sometimes used to make violent threats.


Here are some signs to look out for that can suggest that someone you know might be involved in county lines activity:

  • Are they always going missing from school or their home?
  • Are they travelling alone to places far away from home?
  • Do they suddenly have lots of money/lots of new clothes/new mobile phones?
  • Are they receiving much more calls or texts than usual?
  • Are they carrying or selling drugs? 
  • Are they carrying weapons or know people that have access to weapons? 
  • Are they in a relationship with or hanging out with someone/people that are older and controlling? 
  • Do they have unexplained injuries? 
  • Do they seem very reserved or seem like they have something to hide?
  • Do they seem scared?
  • Are they self-harming?


The National Crime Agency says they are seeing increases in the “scale and scope of the threat” from county lines.
County lines is where urban drug gangs expand their markets for crack cocaine and heroin into smaller towns.
They often exploit teenagers as drug runners and vulnerable addicts to provide flats to deal from – a process called cuckooing.


Going country

This is the most popular term that describes county lines activity. It can also mean the act of travelling to another city/town to deliver drugs or money.


The act of selling drugs. Trapping can refer to the act of moving drugs from one town to another or the act of selling drugs in one. 

Trap house

A building used as a base from where drugs are sold (or sometimes manufactured). These houses usually are occupied by someone (usually adult drug users but sometimes young people are forced to stay in trap houses) location.

Trap line

This refers to when someone owns a mobile phone specifically for the purpose of running and selling of drug.


What does Cuckooing mean?

Cuckooing is a form of crime in which drug dealers take over the home of a vulnerable person in order to use it as a base for drug dealing.