Educational film tackles `County Lines’ gang exploitation and violence

Fearless.org, the youth service of the charity Crimestoppers, is launching a new film in Gwent this week to raiseawareness of how ‘County Lines’ drug gangs exploit young people to move and sell drugs.

‘County Lines’ is the name given to drug networks operated by criminal gangs outside of their home cities and towns.

The film - ‘Running the Lines’ - was made for the Fearless Wales project by ‘It’s My Shout’ productions. It follows the character Evan who is groomed, exploited and threatened into becoming a drug runner for a London-based organised crime gang. The fictional story is inspired by accounts of real-life County Lines cases, including the use of violence by such gangs.

Running the Lines will be launched in screenings across all four police force areas in Wales during June, and forms part of a new Fearless educational workshop and awareness campaign.

Jeff Cuthbert, Gwent Police Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “County Lines is a growing problem in our communities. It is complex, often hidden, and targets some of the most vulnerable people in society. It is part of the bigger picture of serious and organized crime that affects more UK citizens than any other national security threat.

“Crimestoppers, working in partnership with the St Giles Trust, has worked with nine comprehensive schools in Newport, engaging with about 6000 children aged 11 – 14 to deliver key messages and advice at a crucial time in their development. This video will support that work. It explains the harsh realities of life working for a criminal gang and will hopefully deter young people from becoming involved in this type of crime.”

Fearless.org, which now has youth workers covering all parts of Wales, will help tackle the underreporting of crime by young people. Through its website, young people can pass on information about crime they’ve witnessed to Fearless.org 100% anonymously and safely.

Ella Rabaiotti, Wales National Manager at Crimestoppers charity, said: “Young people can become involved with criminal gangs but often do not recognise they’re being exploited or feel confident to seek help.

“We will use the film to start a conversation with young people - especially by de-glamorising drug gangs and challenging any misconceptions around carrying knives. We hope through our Running the Lines project we can empower young people to be aware of the issues, feel safer and be confident to report crime - including the option to use Fearless.org anonymously”

The film is the second produced by Pencoed-based It’s My Shout. The first film, made in partnership with the joint schools police programme launched in 2017. ‘Are you Fearless?’, available on the ‘FearlessORG’ YouTube site, encouraged young people to recognise and report crime.