Local children are being used to traffic your party drugs.
Think taking drugs is just a bit of festive fun? That no harm is being caused?
Most people who buy or take drugs are completely unaware of the supply chain that lies behind them, and the violence and intimidation that goes with it.
In order to get drugs, including ‘party drugs’, to those who take them, a supply chain of violence, grooming and modern slavery is established. Local children are being targeted right now, purely to move drugs and money through Essex, up and down to London and beyond, in County Lines.
County Lines is the name given to drug dealing where organised criminal gangs move drugs across the country. They exploit vulnerable people, particularly children and those with mental health or addiction issues, by recruiting them to distribute the drugs, often referred to as ‘drug running’.
However, while some young people are more at risk of being groomed than others, any young person could be at risk of being targeted by County Line Drug gangs. Children as young as 11 years old are recruited, often using social media, often enticed into the gang lifestyle with drugs, alcohol, money and the promise of friendship or a relationship.
They are exploited and forced to carry drugs between locations, usually on trains or coaches. Sometimes made to swallow or hide drugs inside themselves so not to be detected. They are also forced to sell drugs to local users.
People exploited in this way will quite often be exposed to physical, mental and sexual abuse, they may not recognise themselves as victims, they don’t see that they have been groomed by older gang members to take part in criminal activity.
County Lines are run by gangs and a result there is a strong link between County Lines and Violence with these children caught up in the middle of rival gang wars. It is a dangerous abusive and exploitative world.
It’s important to realise County Lines doesn’t just happen in big cities. This is happening right across Essex, from Basildon to Braintree, Tendring to Thurrock – large towns to small villages. The children involved come from a variety of backgrounds and places in the County. They could be your neighbour, a friend’s son or daughter, or someone you see while walking around your hometown.
To alert the public to this activity, Essex Police, Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, Essex County Council and Thurrock Council are running #MerryMuletide a hard hitting social media campaign, designed by Southend on Sea Borough Council, that alerts recreational drug users to the catastrophic consequences their drug taking is having on the lives of local children.
We are asking people to understand where drugs come from, the dangers of the supply chain and to subsequently think twice if they are tempted to buy or take recreational or “party” drugs, this Christmas or beyond.
If you have any information or concerns about drug dealing or county lines activity in your community please let us know. You can go to our website home page and select the 'Live Chat' button at the bottom right of the page. Here, between 7am-11pm, you will be able to provide information by speaking to one of our online operators to ensure your report is dealt with as quickly as possible.