Torbay Safeguarding Children Partnership

The TSCP will promote a culture whereby nobody tolerates or ignores trafficking or exploitation in any form, and where communities, families and all professionals in Torbay are prepared and understand how to identify, report and prevent harm to children.

We will target, tackle, and bring to justice those who exploit children.

The TSCP does not see this as a police only responsibility, and we will seek to utilise any opportunity to disrupt & bring to justice those who exploit children.

What is county lines exploitation?

County lines, sometimes referred to as Dangerous Drug Networks (DDN’s) is the term that is used for the organised supply of drugs into our local market and coastal towns using dedicated mobile phone numbers, often referred to as ‘graft phones’ or ‘deal lines’. It can often involve child criminal exploitation (CCE) by targeting of local children and vulnerable adults to move both drugs and money.

Criminal networks, having established a market base, can also take over the homes of local vulnerable adults and families by force, coercion and or deception.  This is known as ‘cuckooing’.  Please watch the following video for information in relation to cuckooing.

County lines activity and the associated violence, drug dealing and exploitation has a devastating impact on young people, vulnerable adults and local communities.

Signs to look out for

A young person’s involvement in county lines activity often leaves signs. A young person might exhibit some of these signs, either as a member or as an associate of a gang dealing drugs. Any sudden changes in a young person’s lifestyle should be discussed with them.

Some classic indicators of county lines involvement and exploitation are listed below:

  • Persistently going missing from home or school and/or being found out of their area
  • Unexplained acquisition of money, clothes or mobile phones
  • Excessive receipt of texts/phone calls
  • Relationships with controlling/older individuals or groups
  • Leaving care/home without explanation
  • Suspicion of physical assaults/unexplained injuries
  • Parental concerns
  • Carrying weapons
  • Significant decline in school results, performance and attendance
  • Gang association and/or isolation from peers or social networks
  • Self-harm or significant changes in emotional well being

Further Information on County Lines

The following link has further information from Devon and Cornwall Police

For National information and guidance on County Lines you can visit the National Crime Agency 

What to do if you are concerned

If you are a practitioner working with a vulnerable children or adults, who you think may be at risk of county lines exploitation you should share your concerns with Torbay Social Services. For children under the age of 18 years contact the MASH and for young people 18 years and over and vulnerable adults contact the Safeguarding Adults Team.

You should also share your concerns with the police using the Partner agency information sharing form.

If you believe a crime is being committed or a person is at immediate risk of harm, you should contact the police as a matter of urgency on 999

You would also need to complete a child exploitation tool kit.  Please contact the


What else you can do

Consult the Home Office’s Child Exploitation Disruption Toolkit. This is aimed at frontline staff working to safeguard children and young people under the age of 18 from sexual and criminal exploitation (including law enforcement, social care, housing, education and voluntary sector organisations). It will help you understand and access existing legislative opportunities to target specific risks, such as warning notices, offence charges and care orders.

Consult the new guidance on submitting intelligence relating to child exploitation. Produced by the Children’s Society, Victim Support and the NPCC, this guide is for professionals and the community. Click here to access the guidance.

Raise awareness of county lines. You can access posters on the website

Tell young people about Fearless, Crime Stopper’s anonymous reporting service for young people.

Direct adults to Crime Stoppers' anonymous reporting service; Phone: 0800 555 111 or visit the website: Crime Stoppers

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