What is Cuckooing County Lines?

County Lines is the phrase used to describe drug dealing networks that includes the recruitment of children, young people and vulnerable people to transport drugs and money all over the country.

They do this to make themselves less likely to get caught, and choose the victims that they believe best for the job. The gangs even go as far as child criminal exploitation.

Criminal gangs exploit children, and vulnerable people to become drug runners. Alot of these networks are in large towns and cities across the UK. The victims would then transported across counties selling drugs. This usually takes place from cities into smaller towns and rural areas.


The term ‘County Line’ is from the phone lines used to organise the running of these networks across the counties. Here are some of the signs that you could spot to help keep children and vulnerable people safe from county line networks.


What is Cuckooing?

Cuckooing is when the gangs use a vulnerable persons home and their base for the production or dealing of drugs.

The victims of Cuckooing that are generally targeted and befriended by the drugs dealers are:

  • People struggling with addictions
  • People with mental health or physical health problems
  • Single mums
  • People living in poverty.
  • sex workers.



What are the signs of Cuckooing?


  • An increase of anti social behaviour.
  • The outside of the property becomes unkept/Untidy and an increase in litter.
  • Not seeing your neighbour as often or they are distancing themselves more than usual.
  • An increase in visitors and a decrease in their regular visitors.
  • A neighbour has began to taxi people around alot.
  • An increase of cars and bikes outside of the property.


Spot the signs of Cuckooing - County Lines

What to do if you spot someone who is a victim?


Report your suspicions to the police on 101 for a non-emergency, or 999 for an emergency. You could help a young person, children and vulnerable people that are being used for county lines drug dealing by county lines gangs.

You can also visit the Crimestoppers website or anonymously phone 0800 555 111.

lets help those who are working hard to stop organised criminals and are tackling county lines.


Peel Solutions offer training of County lines and other safeguarding issues delivered by our Head of Safeguarding, Mark Tasker. Mark is a retired Detective Inspector from the Strategic Public Protection Unit at Cheshire Police, and after retirement, he took up a role with Warrington Safeguarding children board as Training and Development coordinator. Call us in 01925 377 878 for more information.


You can read about spotting the signs of County Lines here.