Institute of Licensing supports the Home Office campaign to help taxi drivers identify and safeguard victims of ‘County Line’ gangs

Institute of Licensing supports the Home Office campaign to help taxi drivers identify and safeguard victims of ‘County Line’ gangs   

Thousands of children and teenagers – some as young as 12 – are being exploited by criminal gangs to carry drugs from urban areas to coastal and market towns. Many of these children travel between the city and rural towns in taxis or private hire vehicles in a criminal activity known as ‘county lines’.

With taxis being a popular form of transport for children being exploited by ‘county line’ gangs, the Home Office is working with the Institute of Licensing to raise awareness of ‘county lines’ among licensing managers and licensed taxi and private hire drivers.

To help licensing managers and drivers understand the signs to spot potential victims of county line gangs, and how they can report concerns, the Home Office has produced guidance posters specifically for the licensed taxi and private hire sector which are available here: https://goo.gl/Chbxc5

The signs to spot are:

  • A children, normally 14-15 years old, but can be as young as 12 travelling a long train journey alone.
  • They may be from another area, so may not be familiar with an area (may look lost) and may have a distinct urban accent
  • They may be travelling during school hours or unusual hours (e.g. late in the evening)
  • An obvious relationship with controlling, older individuals
  • Suspicion of self-harm, physical assault or unexplained injuries
  • Excessive receipt of texts or phone calls

Licensed taxi and private hire drivers who spot a vulnerable young person should report their concerns to CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.

In addition to the posters, a guidance booklet is available here (https://goo.gl/STTBDw), which gives more information on ‘county lines’. This explains how staff in local authorities and police forces can safeguard vulnerable children and protect them from gangs. We encourage licensing managers to promote the guidance to their safeguarding leads and to other appropriate partners.

This is part of the Home Office’s campaign to increase awareness of ‘county lines’ with staff in both statutory and non-statutory organisations who have the ability to identify and report an at-risk vulnerable person either to the police or in line with their organisation’s safeguarding policy.