Children as young as 12 could be coerced into County Lines drug dealing in Milton Keynes
A shocking YouTube film has revealed how easy it is for children as young as 12 to enter the grim world of County Lines drug dealing.
The film, made by pupils in Years 7 and 8, follows the story of 12-year-old Elliot who finds himself who finds himself exploited to become a drug runner, hiding drugs in his sock drawer and taking orders about where to deliver them,
It starts with the grooming process by older boys and goes onto explore the dire consequences County Lines has on both the victim and those around them.
County Lines is where illegal drugs are transported from one area to another, often across police and local authority boundaries and usually by children or vulnerable people who are coerced into it by gangs.
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The ‘County Line’ is the mobile phone line used to take the orders of drugs.
Areas where the drugs are taken to are reporting increased levels of violence and knife or gun-related crimes as a result of this trend, says the National Crime Agency.
The film, called Notice Me, has been praised by Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Barber, who is hoping it will be shown in schools all over Milton Keynes and elsewhere.
It devised entirely by pupils of Trevelyan Middle School in Windsor, who spent months creating fully improvised dialogue that gives it an authentic feel.
The film aims to change the mindsets of both young people and wider communities. It aims to show, contrary to perceptions, that County Lines can affect any type of child and in any area. It also shows County Lines to be an issue of Modern Slavery, where pupils are left powerless and trapped at the mercy of sophisticated criminal gangs.
The pupils collaborated with a wide range of experts to make the film as true to life as possible, including police and other frontline services. They even spoke to Emily Vaughn, a survivor of County Lines and now best-selling author. They were also heavily supported by Space, an unfunded organisation who works directly with parents of those affected by County Lines.
Brad Day, Assistant Head Teacher at Trevelyan and director of Notice Me, sad: “County Lines remains much misunderstood as an issue. Too many believe it could never happen to their child or happen in an area such as Windsor.
"The reality is that County Lines operations are run by brutal and highly sophisticated gangs capable of reaching any child and affecting any area. Our film shows just how easy it is for a child to fall victim to this form of Modern Slavery.”
Freddie Wilson, who plays the lead role in the film: “One thing I’ve learnt is just how intense County Lines can be. I never realised it could happen to any type of child from any area or background. I encourage all, both children and parents, to watch this film.”
PCC Matthew Barber, said: “I’ve been so impressed not just by the skill and creativity in developing this project, but in the final film itself, which is truly compelling...It is a project which really can raise awareness of a crucially important issue.
"I hope this will act as a template for other schools and help make our children safer.”