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County Lines and coronavirus

Learning Disability Devon has worked with Devon Safeguarding Adults Partnership to produce County Lines and coronavirus (COVID-19) information for people at risk to help them stay safe.

County Lines (also known as dangerous drug networks) refers to the transportation and supply of drugs from larger towns and cities to market towns, rural and suburban locations. County Lines is a harmful criminal activity and its victims may be especially isolated and hidden from view during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, help and support is available for victims of County Lines.

Potential indicators of County Lines exploitation

Are you or someone you know:

  • receiving an excessive amount of texts or phone calls?
  • having threats made to hurt you, a pet or someone that is important to you?
  • being physically hurt, intimidated or made to feel frightened?
  • having people calling at your address – often at unsociable hours – and not leaving when you ask them to?
  • being given a phone or drugs or other things to look after or hide?


There is increasing evidence that drug gangs are using threats of violence and intimidation to persuade vulnerable adults to transport and sell drugs and are using their property for criminal activities (known as cuckooing).

Cuckooing is when someone you don’t know takes over your home and uses it as a place to sell, supply or store drugs. These people may invite other people to stay in your home without asking you, or they may bully and threaten you to leave your home.

You are more at risk of being exploited by county lines gangs and ‘cuckooing’ if you:

  • use drugs
  • are in financial difficulty
  • have mental health problems
  • have a learning disability or autistic spectrum disorder.

An easy read guide about cuckooing is available on the Learning Disability Devon website.

Help and support

If you are concerned about your own or someone else’s safety or welfare, you can report your concerns by calling Care Direct on 0345 1551 007 or emailing

If you report a concern, you will be listened to, and your concerns will be taken seriously.

Call the police on 101 if you suspect County Lines, or 999 if there is an immediate risk of harm.