Young people across Leicestershire warned about County Lines thanks to school play
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A hard-hitting production to raise awareness on the issues of County Lines and how it affects young people will be shown in 80 secondary schools across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland from Monday 24 February.
Leicestershire Police have commissioned leading theatre company, AlterEgo Creative Solutions to deliver a series of productions to children in year 7 upwards, as well as parents, teachers and professionals on the national drug trafficking issue.
The production, carried out by three actors, will run for eight weeks and aims to raise awareness around County Lines, how it can affect young people, information on grooming and the similarities between Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) and Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE). The production will also educate children on where to go for help and advice if they have concerns.
County Lines is a national issue and involves gangs and criminal networks exporting illegal drugs into other areas of the country, often small towns, using mobile phone lines or another form of ‘deal line’ which can often be vulnerable adults or young people.
The gangs (usually made up of young males from a large urban area), often exploit children or vulnerable adults to move and store the drugs and money, and use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) and weapons as a way of trapping and manipulating them into trafficking class A drugs, specifically crack cocaine and heroin.
Katie Hudson, Children and Young Persons Officer for Leicestershire Police, said: “County Lines is a national issue which effects young people and has a detrimental impact on their future. We feel it’s vital to raise awareness in young people in order to prevent any risk or harm happening to them.
“AlterEgo’s approach is different and as a result they have an engaging way to reach young people. We’re able to reach at least one year group in every secondary school in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland with this production.”
Keith Hobbs, Headteacher at Stephenson Studio School said: “We are thrilled to be working in partnership with Leicestershire Police and AlterEgo Creative Solutions to tackle national issues at a local level and in a creative way.
“It is imperative that all schools raise awareness amongst their students and the community of the risk of County Lines and other potential safeguarding risks.
“The police and AlterEgo have been pivotal in raising the profile of this work, enabling the delivery of this important message in a way that is more relatable and memorable.”
Lynne Goodwin, of AlterEgo said: "Alterego are delighted to be returning to Leicestershire with our child criminal exploitation play County Lines. The play was developed out of a growing need to raise awareness around this issue and has had a tremendous impact in all the areas around the UK that we have toured to.”