Dangers of ‘County Lines’ brought alive for Year 8 students
The dangers of becoming involved in ‘County Lines’, were brought alive last week to the Year 8 students at Heathfield Community College. The students experienced a powerful and moving performance on Wednesday 30th January from Alter Ego Creative Solutions; a Theatre in Education company, who portray the stories surrounding complex social issues and aim to kick-start conversation, build resilience and inspire change.
The performance on Wednesday concentrated on the vital and very current theme of County Lines. In a compelling performance, only 3 actors and limited sound effects were needed to keep the whole year group engaged for a full hour.
The production was intended to raise awareness around the national issue of urban and established drug gangs setting up satellite businesses in rural and coastal areas to sell illegal drugs and use violent tactics to exploit vulnerable young people in these new areas to help them in their illegal activity.
Detective Chief Inspector Steve Rayland of Sussex Police said about ‘County Lines’: “This is not a new phenomenon and is not confined to Sussex. London affiliated gangs have been seeking to establish drug distribution in Sussex and elsewhere in the South East for several years, although activity has increased in the past two or three years, sometimes involving the use or threat of violence.
“Whilst there is no official definition, typical ‘County Lines’ activity involves an organised crime group from a large urban area travelling to smaller locations, such as a county or coastal towns to sell class A drugs in particular cocaine and heroin. The group may challenge an existing group from the local area or another county lines enterprise, which often leads to incidents of violence.
“The name ‘County Lines’ is used because the organised crime group establishes and operates a single telephone number for customers ordering drugs, operated from outside the area, which becomes their ‘brand’. Unlike other criminal activities where telephone numbers are changed on a regular basis, these telephone numbers have value so are maintained and protected.”
The performance was very powerful with the actors showing real skill and sensitivity at the end when they unpicked what the students had watched and made sure they understood where sources of support and further explanation could come from both in and out of school.
Jack, aged 12, commented ” I was shocked at how violent and scary people can be, the acting really brought the message home to me.”