Within filthy ‘stair-houses’ of the county lines

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Police have taken a look at the filthy ‘traps’ littered with guns and Class A drugs, where children as young as seven can be forced to stay while being exploited by district lines drug gangs.

A BBC News The crew followed Northamptonshire police officers as they raided one of those properties and found a 17-year-old boy who had been reported missing from London.

The cramped flat was riddled with drug paraphernalia, and a large knife was found on a bedside table in one of the filthy bedrooms. Gangs in the districts use trap houses as the basis for drug sales.

A charity worker named Rhys, who was brought into a county drug gang at just eight years old and forced to transport drugs up to ‘200 miles’ across the country, painted a bleak picture of what it’s like inside.

“Stairwells are literally the most disgusting place you can imagine,” he said. ‘Needles are everywhere, medicine packs are everywhere.

Police have taken a look at the filthy ‘traps’ littered with guns and Class A drugs, where children as young as seven can be forced to stay while being exploited by district lines drug gangs. Pictured, a knife found in the bedroom of a Northamptonshire property

A BBC News squad followed Northamptonshire police officers as they raided one of those properties and found a 17-year-old boy who had been reported missing from London.  The flat was littered with drug paraphernalia (photo)

A BBC News squad followed Northamptonshire police officers as they raided one of those properties and found a 17-year-old boy who had been reported missing from London. The flat was littered with drug paraphernalia (photo)

“Drug addicts are going to be crazy enough to want to go to the toilet and literally shit in aluminum foil and throw it out the window.”

County line gangs, so named for the dedicated phone lines they use to advertise and sell drugs to customers in more rural areas, are notorious for forcing children to transport drugs, sometimes hundreds of miles across the country.

They are also known for forcing vulnerable people to let them use their homes to hide or trade drugs, as portrayed in BBC drama Line Of Duty.

Last week, 904 of these ‘cuckooed’ houses were visited by law enforcement officers, and 1,138 vulnerable people were protected as part of a coordinated effort by police forces in England, Wales and Scotland to work hard against the county line gangs.

At the same time, more than 570 young people under the age of 18 were protected.

Young children are targeted because they are less likely to be stopped by the police and less punished if caught.

“These children are victims,” ​​explains a woman who works for the Escapeline charity for child exploitation. This is modern slavery. These children are used as slaves. ‘

Cameras followed as a crew of Northamptonshire police raided a trap house

Cameras followed as a crew of Northamptonshire police raided a trap house

Officers explained that this is the kind of place that children and youth can

Officers explained that this is the kind of place that children and youth can “end up” while being exploited by a county drug gang. In the photo, agents entering the property

A teenage boy, whose identity is protected, was found with 30 packs of class A drugs

A teenage boy, whose identity is protected, was found with 30 packs of class A drugs

Charities like Escapeline have seen the problem escalate as a result of lockdown when kids started homeschooling.

During the coordinated week of action, more than 1,000 people were arrested and 292 weapons were seized.

Forces in the UK increased activity in the week of May 17 with 1,100 arrests, 33 rifles and 219 knives under confiscated weapons, and 80 drug trafficking telephone lines.

It is believed that there are about 600 county line gangs operating in the UK today, up from about 2,000 two years ago.

The Chief of Police of the National Police Chiefs for Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty said: “ Police response to provincial lines has increased significantly in the past 18 months. We have been incessantly behind the lines and have done everything we can to save those who are being exploited.

One bedroom in the Northamptonshire flat, with what appears to be on the door

One bedroom in the Northamptonshire flat, with what appears to be on the door

An employee of Escapeline, a child exploitation charity.  Charities like Escapeline have seen the problem escalate as a result of lockdown when kids started homeschooling

An employee of Escapeline, a child exploitation charity. Charities like Escapeline have seen the problem escalate as a result of lockdown when kids started homeschooling

“Intensification weeks like this allow us to dedicate a burst of activity and resources at the national level, emphasizing the public’s absolute determination to rid communities of this heinous crime.

“We will use all available powers to address every element of the provincial network because we know the impact violence and crimes related to provincial lines can have in our communities.

‘It is essential that everyone is on the lookout for signs of exploitation.

“This could be a child with unexplained money, a new expensive phone or clothing, suddenly missing, in possession of train tickets or taxi receipts, a change in behavior and suddenly new people appear at a house or apartment.”

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