Criminal exploitation is when criminals, often part of gangs, target children and young people for their own gain. Criminal exploitation is also sometimes called ‘County Lines’, as the movement of drugs, money, and people is often across multiple counties.
These criminals groom, threaten or trick children into doing illegal things for them. They might threaten a young person physically, or they might threaten the young person’s family members. The gangs might also offer something in return for the young person’s cooperation – it could be money, food, alcohol, clothes and jewellery, or improved status – but the giving of these gifts will usually be manipulated so that the child feels they are in debt to their exploiter.
Young people can be used for all sorts of criminal activity such as carrying or selling drugs/weapons, running money through ticket machines, helping with robberies. Young people sometimes call it ‘going cuntch’, ‘going country’, ‘going OT’. Sometimes children/young people get sent out of the area, and they may be away for days at a time
However they become trapped in exploitation, the young people involved feel as if they have no choice but to continue doing what the criminals want.
If you would like to read more about Criminal Exploitation, try the NSPCC page here.