In the News

Sociology in the News: Cost of living crisis used by gangs to lure new recruits

Vicki Woolven

16th August 2022

County lines is the name given to drug-dealing networks connecting urban and rural areas, using phone lines, across the UK. Former gang members and those trying to support them claim the rising cost of living is being used by organised criminals to exploit those struggling to make ends meet.

County line gangs are urban drug dealers who sell to customers in more rural areas via dedicated phone lines (Getty Images)

With the cost of living rising and more and more households worrying about how to pay for the most basic items, criminal gangs are targeting teenagers who are in desperate need of money, by offering cash and high value items to lure them in. But this certainly isn't an easy way to make money - county lines is all about selling drugs, but this comes with the heavy price of violence.

Charity Refocus works with former county lines gang members, to help them get their lives back on track and to warn others of the dangers of these criminal organisations. It claims that there is a direct link between the cost of living crisis and county lines gangs recruitment - making it much easier, with people more wiling to consider illegal ways to earn money as they are so desperate. Often gang members have come from poorer backgrounds so they know who and how to target young people.

Refocus is worried more young people will become trapped as they accept help with buying food or other financial shortages as the cost of living crisis deepens. Additionally there is the concern that more people will become vulnerable to "cuckooing" in which gangs find vulnerable people and use their homes as a base for drug dealing. People who can't afford to heat their house, they have to make the decision - heat or eat. They're targets for cuckooing where their house becomes a drug den.

Read the full story here -

Teenage county lines gang members are subject to violence

Vicki Woolven

Vicki Woolven is Subject Lead for Key Stage 4 Humanities at tutor2u. Vicki previously worked as a Head of Geography and Sociology for many years, leading her department to be one of the GA's first Centres of Excellent, and has been a content writer, senior examiner and local authority Key Practitioner for Humanities.

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