Warning over children as young as 10 being used by 'county lines' drugs gangs
Families have been warned young children could be targeted by criminal gangs to act as smugglers.
‘County Lines’ sees the likes of drug dealers and money launderers use youngsters as couriers of cash and other illegal goods.
And it is feared this could see children aged under 10 drawn into illicit activities as English law forbids them from being prosecuted for a crime.
“Weapons are now being transported as well as money,” said Jackie Nolan, business manager at the South Tyneside Safeguarding Children Partnership (STSCP), “it’s becoming very apparent in many towns and cities in the UK.
“Under 10s are specifically targeted because in the eyes of the law they cannot be criminalised.
“Northumbria Police tell us there’s no intelligence to say we have County Lines in South Tyneside, but my challenge is always that County Lines is subtle and hidden [by its nature] so wouldn’t necessarily know it’s here, so we’re doing things to create awareness.”
Nolan was speaking at a meeting on Monday, November 25 of the Hebburn Community Area Forum (CAF) as part of a round of presentations to raise awareness of ‘County Lines’ trafficking.
The term refers to the phone lines set up by gangs in major cities, such as London and Birmingham, to supply areas further afield with drugs and other illegal goods.
Under English law children under 10 are considered below the age of ‘criminal responsibility’ and cannot be prosecuted, but may be placed under the supervision of social workers instead.