A school in Hereford has sent an email to parents over concerns that ‘County Lines’ drug dealers are targeting children in Hereford.

The following email was sent to parents of children at Hereford Academy:

It is likely you have heard the term county lines used in the news recently. This is a growing form of criminal activity that exists nationally regionally across the West Midlands and here in Herefordshire.

We’ve been made aware the county lines activity may be taken place in the HR2 postcode area.

County lines the term used to describe gangs and organise criminal networks export illegal drugs into other mainly Rurel areas by exploiting children and vulnerable adults, often without them realising it. Gang members may use coercion intimidation and violence including sexual violence and weapons to do list. We are clear that this is child exploitation.

Warning signs:

We want to support parents and carers to keep children safe; listed below are some warning signs of county lines exploitation for you to look out for. Often, these are behavioural changes such as:

  • Returning home late or staying out all night or going missing.
  • Being found in areas away from home
  • Increase in drug use or being fined to have large amounts of drugs on them
  • Being secretive about who they are talking to and where they are going
  • Unexplained absence from school college training or work
  • Any in explained money phones clothes or jewellery
  • Increasingly disruptive or aggressive behaviour
  • Using sexual, drug related or violent language you wouldn’t expect to hear.
  • Coming home with injuries or looking particularly dishevelled
  • Having hotel cards or keys to unknown places

As a school we are working together with West Mercia Police and partners including Herefordshire Children’s Services to prevent and spot signs of exploitation at the earliest opportunity. We are keen that parents carers and pupils are also aware of county lines and no where to ask for more support if they are worried and know that you will be listened to and supported.